Definition of panopticon in English:

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Pronunciation: /panˈɒptɪk(ə)n/


A circular prison with cells arranged around a central well, from which prisoners could at all times be observed.
Example sentences
  • Initially, the panopticon was a model prison designed by the Utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham.
  • The panopticon, an 18 th-century prison design dominated by a central viewing tower, called for an elimination of privacy and constant surveillance of prisoners.
  • Instead of the center being a site of viewing and a mastering gaze - as it would be in an actual panopticon - it was to be an open area that was seen from all the booths.


Mid 18th century: from pan- 'all' + Greek optikon, neuter of optikos 'optic'.

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