Definition of magdalen in English:



  • 1St Mary Magdalene.

    • ‘The Magdalene became France's most popular saint after the Virgin Mary.’
    • ‘This shifting image of the Magdalene stabilized in the Renaissance; she became ‘Venus in sackcloth.’’
    1. 1.1archaic A reformed prostitute.
      • ‘The Irish magdalen asylum had its roots in the Victorian rescue movement, and many of the magdalen asylums began as lay efforts to rescue and reform prostitutes.’
      • ‘The first Magdalen asylums of the 1800s were smallish ventures offering prostitutes, expectant or post-pregnancy single mothers, and ‘compromised’ girls the option of temporary refuge and moral ‘rehabilitation.’’
      • ‘As prostitute par excellence, the example of the Magdalen could be called upon to reveal the way forward for women needing to seek repentance from sexual misconduct (the theme so searingly explored in the movie of the Irish magdalens).’
      • ‘Should they desire to remain in the convent, after a period of probation, they are allowed to become Magdalens and eventually make the vows of the Magdalen order.’
      • ‘Highlights of Matron Freeberger's days included visits from former and reformed Magdalens.’
    2. 1.2archaic A home for reformed prostitutes.


Late Middle English: via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek ( Maria hē) Magdalēnē ‘(Mary of) Magdala’ (to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection; John 20:1–18), formerly identified with the sinner of Luke 7:37.