Definition of penal adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈpiːnl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈpiːnl//
    [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 offence
  3. 3very severe penal rates of interest
  4. Word Originlate Middle English: from Old French penal, from Latin poenalis, from poena ‘pain, penalty’.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: penal