noun (plural penitentiaries)
1North American A prison for people convicted of serious crimes.
More example sentences
- Only about 20 of the more than 1,000 prisoners at the federal penitentiary have been convicted of crimes; many have spent years awaiting trial.
- 14 Federal inmates were held at state and local prison facilities until the penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, was established in 1895.
- Indeed, this promise gave the prisons or penitentiaries, as they were now often called, enormous legitimacy, making them the pride, not the shame, of the new republic.
late Middle English (as a term in ecclesiastical law): from medieval Latin paenitentiarius, from Latin paenitentia 'repentance'. Sense 1 dates from the early 19th century.
Definition of penitentiary in:
- The British & World English dictionary