penitentiary definition, penitentiary meaning | English dictionary

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penitentiary

  

      n   pl   , -ries  
1    (in the U.S. and Canada) a state or federal prison: in Canada, esp. a federal prison for offenders convicted of serious crimes,   (Sometimes shortened to)    pen  
2      (R.C. Church)  
a    a cleric appointed to supervise the administration of the sacrament of penance in a particular area  
b    a priest who has special faculties to absolve particularly grave sins  
c    a cardinal who presides over a tribunal that decides all matters affecting the sacrament of penance  
d    this tribunal itself  
      adj  
3       another word for       penitential       1  
4      (U.S. and Canadian)   (of an offence) punishable by imprisonment in a penitentiary  
     (C15 (meaning also: an officer dealing with penances): from Medieval Latin poenitentiarius, from Latin paenitens penitent)  
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