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

  • noun Roman Catholic Church A state in which the souls of those who have died in grace must expiate their sins.
  • noun A place or condition of suffering, expiation, or remorse.
  • adjective Tending to cleanse or purge.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Tending to cleanse; cleansing; expiatory.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Any place or state of temporary suffering or oblivion.
  • noun A gorge or cleft between perpendicular or steeply inclined walls of rock.

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

  • adjective Tending to cleanse; cleansing; expiatory.
  • noun 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 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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


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

[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.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin purgātōrium ("cleansing"). Cognate to English purge.


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  • 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.

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