American English

Definition of penal adjective from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    [usually before noun]
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  1. 1connected with or used for punishment, especially by law penal reforms the penal system Criminals could at one time be sentenced to penal servitude (= prison with hard physical work). a penal colony (= a place where criminals were sent as a punishment in the past)
  2. 2that can be punished by law a penal offense
  3. 3very severe penal rates of interest
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: penal