Definition of carceral in English:



  • Relating to a prison.

    • ‘An additional 68,000 black women were locked up, a number higher than the total carceral population of any one major western European country.’
    • ‘Rwanda, a small landlocked country, became a carceral society for the duration of the genocide in which some 500,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus were massacred by Hutu extremists.’
    • ‘The prisons represent more of a juxtaposition of architectural fragments along breathtaking perspectives than the atrocities of carceral life.’
    • ‘For him, all forms of bodily discipline are essentially the same: democracy and totalitarianism are equally carceral.’
    • ‘Despite its monstrous, carceral appearance, the convention centre is in fact only modestly sized by other cities' standards.’
    • ‘Yet the contrast between the carceral and the viewer society is probably overstated.’
    • ‘Related to this notion of surveillance and carceral institutional space is Foucault's notion of the panopticon, a mechanism for establishing social power.’
    • ‘This carceral city seems, superficially, reminiscent of the Utopia of unbroken visibility and unrelenting surveillance envisaged in Bentham's Panopticon.’
    • ‘It is a carceral society whose prisons overflowed with an estimated 120,000 people awaiting trial on charges of genocide in the 1990s.’
    • ‘It applied ferocious carceral discipline, related in graphic tales of torture in the parliamentary inquest published in 1881.’
    • ‘He argues that in the current period the melding of ghetto and prison through various carceral strategies is the latest method devised for achieving these long-standing objectives.’
    • ‘The contrast between the ascetic, carceral Hanoi of the 1980s and the sensuous, lively Hanoi of the present is exemplified in the following comments made to me by a Hanoi resident.’
    • ‘Carlisle Circus could be an emblem of an increasingly secular (and carceral?) society, calling to mind Philip Larkin's ‘Church Going’.’
    • ‘What is reserved in these techniques of self-fashioning is the right to define the terms of being an object for the carceral and clinical gaze.’
    • ‘Far more pressing, in reality, was the need for reform of Italian justice, with its mixture of a Fascist-derived legal code, arbitrary emergency powers, and chaotic procedural and carceral conditions.’
    • ‘Given the unusual nature of resistance in such carceral regimes, many historians have stressed processes of regulation over patterns of resistance in penal institutions.’


Late 16th century: from late Latin carceralis, from carcer prison.