[ peen-l ]
/ ˈpin l /
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of, relating to, or involving punishment, as for crimes or offenses.
prescribing punishment: penal laws.
constituting punishment: He survived the years of penal hardship.
used as a place of confinement and punishment: a penal colony.
subject to or incurring punishment: a penal offense.
payable or forfeitable as a penalty: a penal sum.
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Origin of penal
1400–50; late Middle English <Latin poenālis, equivalent to poen(a) penalty (<Greek poinḗ fine) + -ālis-al1
OTHER WORDS FROM penal
pe·nal·i·ty [pi-nal-i-tee], /pɪˈnæl ɪ ti/, nounpe·nal·ly, adverbnon·pe·nal, adjectiveun·pe·nal, adjective
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH penal1. penal , penological, punitive2. penal , penile
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use penal in a sentence
During the 68 years he spent incarcerated in a half-dozen penal institutions, the world outside moved on.He was locked up at age 15. Almost seven decades later, he’s reentering an unfamiliar world.|Karen Heller|February 19, 2021|Washington Post
Navalny said the penal service was “deceiving everybody” in its claims he failed to meet his probation obligations, stating he was in coma after his poisoning in August and then was being treated in Germany.Russian opposition leader Navalny ordered jailed, calls on supporters to keep pressure on Putin|Isabelle Khurshudyan, Robyn Dixon|February 2, 2021|Washington Post
So from Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon, a prison where circled prison cells are watched by a central single tower, to Devil’s Island, the penal colony made famous in the film Papillon, prisons have been designed to punish as much as anything else.The Best Places to Be Locked Up If You Love Luxury|Eugene Robinson|October 7, 2020|Ozy
British Dictionary definitions for penal
/ (ˈpiːnəl) /
of, relating to, constituting, or prescribing punishment
payable as a penaltya penal sum
used or designated as a place of punishmenta penal institution
Derived forms of penalpenally, adverb
Word Origin for penal
C15: from Late Latin poenālis concerning punishment, from poena penalty
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012