Definition of penitentiary noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//ˌpenɪˈtenʃəri//
; NAmE NAmE//ˌpenɪˈtenʃəri//
(pl. penitentiaries) (slang pen) (both North American English) Prison
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a prison The execution was carried out at the state penitentiary in Fort Madison. See related entries: Prison Word Originlate Middle English (as a term in ecclesiastical law): from medieval Latin paenitentiarius, from Latin paenitentia ‘repentance’. The current usage dates from the early 19th cent.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: penitentiary