• synonyms


noun, plural san·be·ni·tos. (under the Spanish Inquisition)
  1. an ornamented garment worn by a condemned heretic at an auto-da-fé.
  2. a penitential garment worn by a confessed heretic, of yellow for the penitent, of black for the impenitent.
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Origin of sanbenito

1550–60; < Spanish, named after San Benito Saint Benedict, from its resemblance to the scapular believed to have been introduced by him
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sanbenito

Historical Examples of sanbenito

  • I would rather have put on a sanbenito myself than have gone there.

    The Spanish Brothers

    Deborah Alcock

  • He had received 150,000 maraveds by selling to penitents exemptions from wearing the sanbenito, or penitential garment.

  • This saco bendito became known as the sanbenito or, more commonly, abito and was necessarily inherited by the new Inquisition.

  • Two years and a half were spent on the trials of Diego and Ana, ending with a sentence of irremissible prison and sanbenito.

  • He continued his apostolate and, on a second trial, he was condemned to perpetual prison and sanbenito.

British Dictionary definitions for sanbenito


noun plural -tos
  1. a yellow garment bearing a red cross, worn by penitent heretics in the Inquisition
  2. a black garment bearing flames and devils, worn by impenitent heretics at an auto-da-fé
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Word Origin for sanbenito

C16: from Spanish San Benito Saint Benedict, an ironical allusion to its likeness to the Benedictine scapular
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