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

  • adj. Of, relating to, or prescribing punishment, as for breaking the law.
  • adj. Subject to punishment; legally punishable: a penal offense.
  • adj. Serving as or constituting a means or place of punishment: penal servitude; a penal colony.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Enacting or threatening punishment.
  • adj. Incurring punishment; subject to a penalty.
  • adj. Inflicted as punishment; used as a means of punishment.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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


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-1 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.


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