Definition of purgatory in English:


nounPlural purgatories

  • 1(in Catholic doctrine) a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before going to heaven.

    ‘all her sins were forgiven and she would not need to go to Purgatory’
    ‘the punishment of souls in purgatory’
    • ‘He explains that as a Catholic, the ideas of purgatory, heaven and hell, enter strongly into Kelly's worldview and because of this he must convince the audience, and himself, of his innocence.’
    • ‘In the purgatory, he meets Beatrice, who takes him by the hand and - you guess it it - leads him to paradise.’
    • ‘At the same time, the emphasis on the life of the soul in purgatory, heaven, or hell made the corpse irrelevant to popular perceptions of life after death.’
    • ‘Peruvians' notion of an afterlife very much follows Catholic notions of heaven, purgatory, and hell.’
    • ‘We Catholics believe in the purgatory and the heavens.’
    • ‘All sins must be paid for, and those who had not done enough good deeds in life to compensate must suffer pain in purgatory until their sins were expiated’
    • ‘There is a selection of prayers for the souls in purgatory.’
    • ‘I might add that none of this will be truly impressive until scientists find a way to measure the effects on souls in purgatory, traditionally the chief target of intercessory prayer.’
    • ‘One answer to the optimists' dilemma is a resurgent and slightly revised doctrine of purgatory.’
    • ‘Pope Sixtus IV's fund-raising campaign touted indulgences which would free your deceased loved ones suffering in purgatory.’
    • ‘Sit near the exit or offer up your suffering to the poor souls in purgatory.’
    • ‘She suffered greatly in her final years, yet always offered it up for the poor suffering souls in purgatory.’
    • ‘I think he has applied his vast study of Augustine's writings on the redemptive power of suffering and the Church's teaching on purgatory.’
    • ‘Christianity believes in the purificatory fires of the purgatory, and the eternal fires of hell.’
    • ‘Shows last week had discussions on Marian devotion, purgatory, and other Catholic doctrines.’
    • ‘This extra bit of sleep, gratuitous as it is, makes me think of the refrigerium, or heavenly refreshment, that souls in purgatory are said to enjoy on occasion.’
    • ‘A Catholic priest gives the last rites to the dying and may offer a mass for a soul that departed to purgatory before making peace with God.’
    • ‘Founded either by individuals, guilds, or corporations, chantries were endowments for offering masses usually near a person's tomb or effigy, for the soul's repose in purgatory.’
    • ‘These were endowments to pay for masses to be sung (Latin cantare, ‘to sing’), usually near a tomb or effigy, for the repose of one or more souls in purgatory.’
    • ‘By depicting kings and emperors suffering torments in purgatory, thinly-veiled criticisms were levelled at rulers who did not live up to the model of Christian kingship.’
    1. 1.1mass noun Mental anguish or suffering.
      ‘this was purgatory, worse than anything she'd faced in her life’
      • ‘The long-suffering Tory faithful may feel they are going through hell; but last week's policy renaissance proved they are only in the temporary state of purgatory.’
      • ‘But to travel hundreds of miles to do this again and again, end on end, night after night, seems like a freehand sketch of purgatory.’
      • ‘But then Queensland seems to operate under some weird and wonderful political theology when it comes to who can be rehabilitated and who must remain in purgatory.’
      • ‘Second, you must submit to a two-and-a-half year purgatory of character assassination and blatant distortion of your record as a public official.’
      • ‘It tells a story, too, that is very much of our times: that of bearing witness, from the eerie comfort of a new world, to a past for which the present must dwell in an endless, civilised purgatory.’
      • ‘I find it particularly galling because, in this country, we have had to suffer pretty near total purgatory at the hands of our various enforcement agencies who seem to start from the premise that we are all members of that same Mafia clan.’
      • ‘So perhaps before we indulge ourselves in a ritual sneer at those luckless rich, with their empty life of floating purgatory, we should look a little harder at ourselves and our own view of the outside world.’
      • ‘In some of his paintings it is as if he has been to hell and back, a reporter from the frontier of purgatory.’
      • ‘No wonder he told reporters last week: ‘It was pure purgatory.’’
      • ‘Chris, then, has fallen from grace and is living in a kind of purgatory, respected but terribly alone, knowing he can never be forgiven because the person he wronged is dead.’
      • ‘Allow me to explain: today, my library's copies of the Wolves in the Walls arrived, to much jubilation, after sitting in cataloging purgatory for some time.’
      • ‘For Arthur, separation from Alec was purgatory, although the pair believed they were in touch telepathically.’
      • ‘According to the log book, there is no date for an end to the team's purgatory - the word ‘indefinite’ leaps off the page where their start date should be inserted.’
      • ‘He maintains the youngster's idea of purgatory is a couple of hours on a running track or in a gym.’
      • ‘I had to say goodbye to my girlfriend so I could come back and get into shorthand classes - transition from bliss down to purgatory.’
      • ‘Residents of a South Lakeland hamlet are in political purgatory after members of the parish council resigned over red tape.’
      • ‘I didn't blog for a couple of days over Easter because I was in purgatory - a village on the South Wales coast, near Cardiff - doing the family thing.’
      • ‘The Dubliner had been loitering in football's equivalent of purgatory since his high-profile sacking from Leeds United in June 2002.’
      • ‘I felt suspended in some kind of mental purgatory that demanded that I experience the collective disappointment of each and every person there.’
      • ‘I am still heavily medicated and in pain, but can't see an end to this purgatory.’
      torment, torture, misery, suffering, affliction, anguish, agony, wretchedness, woe, tribulation, hell, hell on earth
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  • Having the quality of cleansing or purifying.

    ‘infernal punishments are purgatory and medicinal’


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French purgatorie or medieval Latin purgatorium, neuter (used as a noun) of late Latin purgatorius ‘purifying’, from the verb purgare (see purge).