from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • noun plural The recesses, or innermost parts, of any thing or place, especially of a temple or palace.
  • noun plural Hidden things or secrets; privacy; sanctuary.


  • But the returns also returned a more profound and philosophical truth -- the truth that the self is a layered entity; the truth that there can be reverberations in the penetralia of our hearts that are beyond our ability to grasp or modulate.

    Gordon Marino: Psychologically Processing the Election

  • Here, when you enter his gloomy penetralia, and invoke his services, the sable-clad and cadaverous- featured shopman asks you, in a sepulchral voice-we are not writing romance, but simple fact - whether you are to be suited for inextinguishable sorrow, or for mere passing grief; and if you are at all in doubt upon the subject, he can solve the problem for you, if you lend him your confidence for the occasion. . .

    Victorian Funerals and Mourning

  • Understanding that West had gone to great lengths to observe China beyond the treaty ports, this writer praised the artist for showing what he called “penetralia,” or “the inner life and natural scenery” of a country.

    The Romance of China: Excursions to China in U.S. Culture: 1776-1876

  • They did not take to literature and science, because these pursuits require severe work and more or less of a strong bias, for a thorough exposition of their profound penetralia.

    Black and White

  • He wished to be what he called “safe” with all those whom he had admitted to the penetralia of his house and heart.

    Barchester Towers

  • When I had finally regained the plain, and could breathe free, I mentally vowed that the penetralia of an African jungle should not be visited by me again, save under most urgent necessity.

    How I Found Livingstone

  • Having crossed his arms upon his breasts, with an inclination of the head, he stalked in solemn silence before them into the penetralia of the temple, where they found the conjurer sitting at a table, provided with pen, ink, and paper, divers books, mathematical instruments, and a long white wand lying across the whole.

    The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle

  • No one else here cares for the penetralia of the moment, or last mysteries: there have been too many rational years.

    Gravity's Rainbow


The word 'penetralia' comes from a Latin word meaning "penetrating, internal".