• WordNet 3.6
    • adj penitentiary showing or constituting penance "penitential tears","wrote a penitential letter apologizing for her hasty words"
    • adj penitentiary used for punishment or reform of criminals or wrongdoers "penitentiary institutions"
    • n penitentiary a correctional institution for those convicted of major crimes
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The 1st US federal penitentiary building was completed at Leavenworth, Kansas in 1906.
    • Penitentiary A house of correction, in which offenders are confined for punishment, discipline, and reformation, and in which they are generally compelled to labor; a prison; a jail. Colloquially often shortened to pen.
    • Penitentiary A small building in a monastery where penitents confessed.
    • Penitentiary (R. C. Ch) An office of the papal court which examines cases of conscience, confession, absolution from vows, etc., and delivers decisions, dispensations, etc. Its chief is a cardinal, called the Grand Penitentiary, appointed by the pope.
    • Penitentiary (R. C. Ch) An officer in some dioceses since A. D. 1215, vested with power from the bishop to absolve in cases reserved to him.
    • Penitentiary Expressive of penitence; as, a penitentiary letter.
    • Penitentiary One who does penance.
    • Penitentiary One who prescribes the rules and measures of penance.
    • Penitentiary Relating to penance, or to the rules and measures of penance. "A penitentiary tax."
    • Penitentiary That part of a church to which penitents were admitted.
    • Penitentiary Used for punishment, discipline, and reformation. "Penitentiary houses."
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • penitentiary Relating to penance, or to the rules and measures of penance.
    • penitentiary Expressive of contrition or penitence; penitential: as, a penitentiary letter.
    • n penitentiary A penitent; one who repents of sin or does penance for it.
    • n penitentiary A confessor; a person appointed to deal with penitents or penances. In particular — In the early Christian Ch., an officer appointed to confer with all penitents and to decide on their admission to public penance, or, where necessary, to prescribe private penances.
    • n penitentiary In the Roman Catholic Church, one who prescribes the rules and degrees of penance; specifically, an officer vested with power from the bishop to absolve in cases which the ordinary parish priest may be incompetent to determine.
    • n penitentiary In the papal court, an office in which are examined and from which are issued secret bulls, dispensations, etc., the tribunal in charge being termed the Tribunal of Penitentiaries.
    • n penitentiary A book for the guidance of confessors in imposing penances, etc., prescribing the rules and measures of penance.
    • n penitentiary A place for the performance of penance; a small building in monastic establishments in which a penitent confined himself. The term was also applied to that part of a church to which penitents were admitted during the service.
    • n penitentiary A prison in which convicts are confined for punishment and reformation, and compelled to labor; a house of correction; the place in which criminals condemned to penal servitude are confined.
    • penitentiary Liable to punishment by imprisonment of the offender in a penitentiary: said of an offense: as, a penitentiary offense.
    • n penitentiary A member of the Penitents, certain religious orders. See penitent, 2.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj Penitentiary relating to penance: penitential
    • ***


  • William T. Sherman
    William T. Sherman
    “If I was forced to choose between the penitentiary and White House for four years, I would say the penitentiary, thank you.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Cf. F. pénitencier,. See Penitent
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Fr.,—L. pœnitens, -entispœnitēre, to cause to repent.


In literature:

Uncle Henry, through influence, secured a contract from the penitentiary.
"Watch Yourself Go By" by Al. G. Field
That is called the Penitentiary.
"Real Life In London, Volumes I. and II." by Pierce Egan
In the State penitentiary!
"Torchy" by Sewell Ford
She went out to render service to the cause and they sent her to the penitentiary for ten years.
"The Debs Decision" by Scott Nearing
He has, nevertheless, graced with his presence no few penitentiaries.
"An Outcast" by F. Colburn Adams
Vannozza was occupying her own house with her husband, Canale, who for some time had held the office of secretary of the penitentiary court.
"Lucretia Borgia" by Ferdinand Gregorovius
She dimly recollected that he had been a guard at some penitentiary.
"The Best Short Stories of 1917" by Various
But it means the penitentiary for me.
"Just Patty" by Jean Webster
The penitentiary system in Canada is undergoing a strict trial.
"Canada and the Canadians, Vol. 2" by Richard Henry Bonnycastle
They sent poor Henry Nettles to de penitentiary for it, but most white folks and all de colored didn't believe he done it.
"Slave Narratives Vol. XIV. South Carolina, Part 2" by Works Projects Administration

In poetry:

ON the one hand the steel works.
On the other hand the penitentiary.
Sante Fe trains and Alton trains
Between smokestacks on the west
And gray walls on the east.
And Lockport down the river.
"Joliet" by Carl Sandburg

In news:

Repairs are underway on the front of Housing Unit 1 at the Missouri State Penitentiary along Layfette Street.
Penitentiaries have become a niche market for such work.
The Twelve Days of Winter game exhibit runs through Jan 1, 2012, at the Penitentiary Glen Nature Center in Kirtland, Ohio.
Two federal prison inmates from Lane County died last week after separate incidents at different penitentiaries.
Paranormal activity at the Penitentiary.
0Our cameras go inside the Old Missouri State Penitentiary to see if there is paranormal activity .
Frederico Gomez Junior was sentenced to three-to-five years at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, after pleading guilty to one charge of aggravated assault.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola is using a new type of dog prison officials have bred with a wolf to help patrol the institution's grounds.
(AP) – A South Dakota prison inmate has been apprehended after leaving the State Penitentiary without authorization.
A babysitter convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in his care was sentenced in Elk County Court Monday to no less than 10 years and no more than 20 years in a state penitentiary.
Less than two weeks later, rioters stormed the royal penitentiary and set all seven of the Bastille 's prisoners free.
Authorities say an inmate was found dead at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Colorado State Penitentiary II in Cañon City was built to house inmates in solitary confinement .
Prisoners at a federal penitentiary in western Indiana are preparing to raise thousands of fish for two statewide fish-stocking programs.
(Image: AFP/Getty via Daylife) A view of Riker's Island penitentiary complex.