Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Roman Catholic Church A state in which the souls of those who have died in grace must expiate their sins.
  • n. A place or condition of suffering, expiation, or remorse: a purgatory of drug abuse.
  • adj. Tending to cleanse or purge.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. In Catholicism, the stage of the afterlife where souls suffer for their sins before they can enter heaven
  • n. any situation causing suffering

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Tending to cleanse; cleansing; expiatory.
  • n. A state or place of purification after death; according to the Roman Catholic creed, a place, or a state believed to exist after death, in which the souls of persons are purified by expiating such offenses committed in this life as do not merit eternal damnation, or in which they fully satisfy the justice of God for sins that have been forgiven. After this purgation from the impurities of sin, the souls are believed to be received into heaven.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Tending to cleanse; cleansing; expiatory.
  • n. In the belief of Roman Catholics and others, a place of purgation in which the souls of those dying penitent are purified from venial sins, or undergo the temporal punishment which, after the guilt of mortal sin has been remitted, still remains to be endured by the sinner.
  • n. Any place or state of temporary suffering or oblivion.
  • n. A gorge or cleft between perpendicular or steeply inclined walls of rock.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. (theology) in Roman Catholic theology the place where those who have died in a state of grace undergo limited torment to expiate their sins
  • n. a temporary condition of torment or suffering

Etymologies

Middle English purgatorie, from Old French purgatoire, from Medieval Latin pūrgātōrium, from Late Latin, means of purgation, from neuter of pūrgātōrius, cleansing, from Latin pūrgāre, to cleanse; see purge.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin purgātōrium ("cleansing"). Cognate to English purge. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Promoted to Headline (H3) on 4/10/09: Dear President Obama, 3 federal judges say you must act to end 'political purgatory' for 23 million yahooBuzzArticleHeadline = 'Dear President Obama, 3 federal judges say you must act to end \'political purgatory\' for 23 million '; yahooBuzzArticleSummary =' Article: The District of Columbia U.S.

    Dear President Obama, 3 federal judges say you must act to end 'political purgatory' for 23 million

  • I don't think amount of prayerful consideration can save this numbskull from roasting in purgatory from the number of commandments he has broken.

    Jenny Sanford moving out of governor's mansion

  • Hence some of those who have not this faith have invented another state, after men are gone out of this world, to make them meet for heaven, which they call purgatory; for on what grounds a man should expect an entrance into glory, on his departure out of this world, they understand not.

    Gospel Grounds and Evidences of the Faith of God���s Elect

  • Uttered in behalf of a soul in heaven or in hell, prayer is equally useless; if prayer is to be efficacious, the soul must be in a place which we call purgatory, where it can be helped if prayer is reasonable.

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  • All she says of her 'purgatory' is nothing but the effect of overstrained nerves, and has no genuine regret in it, nor any one wholesome sentiment.

    Selections from the Letters of Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury to Jane Welsh Carlyle

  • Is Aaronk saying that Schiavos soul is stuck in purgatory and hasnt passed unto a better place?

    Think Progress » Rubio raises Terri Schiavo case in an attack on Crist.

  • Of course, the first time I heard that pronouncement was right after I came home with my first used car, purchased “as is” from a lot near the construction site where I had sweated out a summer in purgatory carrying armored cable and 3/4-inch electrical pipe.

    How to Buy a Used 4X4

  • Weasels tore at his flesh, The darkness laughed and prodded his corpse as he hung in purgatory, and he screamed, and screamed, and screamed …

    NaNoWriMo: Faster, Stronger, Better « The Graveyard

  • After a period in purgatory, the private-equity industry is back to dreaming of $10 billion deals again.

    Private Equity Has to Stick to the Small Stuff

  • In one of the great acts of humiliating political symbolism, Ronald Reagan tore down the solar panels, which spent many years in purgatory before eventually finding their way to the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, where they sit on display in silent reproach to all who drive Hummers and own high-wattage plasma television sets.

    The Elusive Green Economy

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