Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small prison, or a police station that has cells.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A house of correction for the confinement of disorderly persons; -- so called from a hospital built in 1553 near St. Bride's (or Bridget's) well, in London, which was subsequently a penal workhouse.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A house of correction for the confinement of vagrants and disorderly persons.

Etymologies

From Bridewell (named after a well dedicated to St Bride), an area of London that once had a "house of correction". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Paul pleaded his privilege as a Roman citizen, by which he was exempted from all trials and punishments of this nature (v. 25): As they bound him with thongs, or leathern bands, to the whipping post, as they used to bind the vilest of malefactors in bridewell from whom they would extort a confession, he made no outcry against the injustice of their proceedings against an innocent man, but very mildly let them understand the illegality of their proceedings against him as a citizen of Rome, which he had done once before at Philippi after he had been scourged (ch.xvi. 37), but here he makes use of it for prevention.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume VI (Acts to Revelation)

  • Here a gang of older boys and men were wont to congregate at such times as they had naught else to occupy their time, and as the bridewell was the only place in which they ever held a job for more than a day or two, they had considerable time to devote to congregating.

    The Mucker

  • The bridewell was a small low-studded chamber built up against the rear end of the Meat Market, and approached from the Square by a narrow passage-way.

    The Story of a Bad Boy

  • Shouldn't we bring back the bridewell and rely on eleemosynary assistance instead - remember they made the Empire and then the welfare state destroyed it from 1918 onwards

    Another Letter Another Rejection

  • Quoth they, “Didst thou not bid us bear him to the bridewell?”

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • So they took him and bore him to the bridewell, where they laid him in irons and left him seated in solitude, unremembered by any.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • Sat shin, shillipen? she knew the vice out of bridewell was a bad fast man by his walk on the spot.

    Finnegans Wake

  • Stephen was blissfully unconscious but for that man in the gap turning up at the eleventh hour the finis might have been that he might have been a candidate for the accident ward or, failing that, the bridewell and an appearance in the court next day before Mr

    Ulysses

  • If a fellow gave them trouble being lagged they let him have it hot and heavy in the bridewell.

    Ulysses

  • Beggars fear him more than the justice, and as much as the whip-stock, whom he delivers over to his subordinate magistrates, the bridewell-man, and the beadle.

    Microcosmography or, a Piece of the World Discovered; in Essays and Characters

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Comments

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  • Indeed.

    Incidentally, OED etymology: From Bride Well, i.e. (St.) Bride's Well, a holy well in London, near which Henry VIII had a ‘lodging’, given by Edward VI for a hospital, afterwards converted into a house of correction.

    December 26, 2008

  • Doesn't have to be for women. At least the bridewell pointed out to me by a tour guide in Bath was used mainly for male prisoners.

    December 26, 2008

  • Slang for women's prison... I think. (Could be just prison...)

    September 5, 2008