Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of, relating to, or prescribing punishment, as for breaking the law.
  • adjective Subject to punishment; legally punishable.
  • adjective Serving as or constituting a means or place of punishment.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of or pertaining to punishment.
  • Constituting punishment; inflicted as a punishment.
  • Subject to penalty; incurring punishment: as, penal neglect.
  • Used as a place of punishment: as, a penal settlement.
  • Payable or forfeitable as a punishment, as on account of breach of contract, etc.: as, a penal sum.
  • In a more general sense, those statutes which impose a new liability for the doing or omitting of an act. Thus, a statute making the officers of a corporation personally liable for its debts if they neglect to file an annual report of its affairs is apenal statute.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Enacting or threatening punishment.
  • adjective Incurring punishment; subject to a penalty.
  • adjective Inflicted as punishment; used as a means of punishment.
  • adjective (Law) a code of laws concerning crimes and offenses and their punishment.
  • adjective (Law) laws prohibiting certain acts, and imposing penalties for committing them.
  • adjective [Great Brit.] imprisonment with hard labor, in a prison, in lieu of transportation.
  • adjective (Law) a suit for penalties.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Of, or relating to punishment.
  • adjective Subject to punishment; punishable.
  • adjective Serving as a place of punishment.

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

  • adjective of or relating to punishment
  • adjective subject to punishment by law
  • adjective serving as or designed to impose punishment

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old French peinal and from Medieval Latin pēnālis, both from Latin poenālis, from poena, penalty, from Greek poinē; see kwei- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old French peinal, from Medieval Latin penalis, from Latin poenalis, from poena ("punishment"), from Ancient Greek ποινή (poinē, "punishment"), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷoyneh₂.

Examples

  • I have heard from someone knowledge in penal policy that prison rape is almost exclusively an American phenomenon.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » More on “Weight Classes” for Prison Inmates

  • Immigration Judges may be required to conduct hearings in penal institutions and other remote locations.

    Mex US Relations and Living in Mexico

  • Well, as I've said, you can challenge that by saying, What about murders in penal institutions, don't we have to have some punishment available for those people?

    Life or Death Decision

  • Well, as I've said, you can challenge that by saying, What about murders in penal institutions, don't we have to have some punishment available for those people?

    Life or Death Decision

  • There's a wide array of things that people think are the very worst — murdering law enforcement officers, murdering in penal institutions, multiple murders, contract murders.

    Life or Death Decision

  • There's a wide array of things that people think are the very worst — murdering law enforcement officers, murdering in penal institutions, multiple murders, contract murders.

    Life or Death Decision

  • The slaveholders who fought to maintain penal slavery in the Constitution understood that the criminal control system would be a lynchpin in the political economy of the post-Reconstruction South.

    Prison Slavery

  • However, I note that, like many other antagonists of the penal status quo, Mr. Wills fails to come up with a viable alternative to this madness we call penal "rehabilitation."

    Do We Need Prisons? An Exchange

  • Crime is only the retail department of what, in wholesale, we call penal law.

    Maxims for Revolutionists

  • I doubted also whether to make a distinction of ages, or to treat young and old alike; whether to allow space for recantation, or to refuse all pardon whatever to one who had been a Christian; whether, finally, to make the name penal, though no crime should be proved, or to reserve the penalty for the combination of both.

    The History of Roman Literature From the earliest period to the death of Marcus Aurelius

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