AskDefine | Define penitentiary

Dictionary Definition

penitentiary adj : used for punishment or reform of criminals or wrongdoers; "penitentiary institutions" n : a correctional institution for those convicted of major crimes [syn: pen]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Medieval Latin (penitentiaria), term used by the Quakers in Pennsylvania during the 1790s, describing a place for penitents sorry for their sins.




  1. A state or federal prison for convicted felons.
  2. (Roman Catholic Church) A priest who administers the sacrament of penance.



  • Italian: penitenziario
  • Norwegian: fengsel, kasjott (dated)


  1. of, or related to penance; penitential
  2. of, or relating to the punishment of criminals


of, or related to prison
  • Norwegian: fengsels- (affix construction)

Extensive Definition

Penitentiary may refer to:
  • Apostolic Penitentiary, a tribunal of mercy, responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins in the Roman Catholic Church
  • Prison or Penitentiary, a correctional facility

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Grand Penitentiary, Holy Father, POW camp, abuna, antipope, archbishop, archdeacon, archpriest, bail, bastille, bishop, bishop coadjutor, black hole, borstal, borstal institution, bridewell, brig, can, canon, cardinal, cardinal bishop, cardinal deacon, cardinal priest, cassock, cell, chaplain, coadjutor, concentration camp, condemned cell, confessor, cooler, coop, curate, cure, dean, death cell, death house, death row, detention camp, diocesan, ecclesiarch, exarch, father, father confessor, father in Christ, federal prison, forced-labor camp, gallach, gaol, guardhouse, hierarch, high priest, hoosegow, house of correction, house of detention, industrial school, internment camp, jail, jailhouse, keep, labor camp, lockup, maximum-security prison, metropolitan, minimum-security prison, oubliette, padre, papa, parish priest, patriarch, pen, penal colony, penal institution, penal settlement, pontiff, pope, prebendary, prelate, presbyter, priest, primate, prison, prison camp, prisonhouse, rector, reform school, reformatory, rural dean, spiritual director, spiritual father, sponging house, state prison, stockade, subdean, suffragan, the hole, tollbooth, training school, vicar
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1