Definition of reformatory in English:



North American
dated, archaic
  • An institution to which young offenders are sent as an alternative to prison.

    • ‘But then the first reformatories began to appear, including one in Wiltshire, in 1856.’
    • ‘So too were there special prisons for juveniles - sometimes in hulks, as in Sydney's Sobraon and Vernon - while the construction of special reformatories and prison farms proceeded well into the twentieth century.’
    • ‘In Shoeshine, two boys, displaced by the war's aftermath and obligated to shine the shoes of American soldiers for money, are caught with stolen goods and sent to a reformatory.’
    • ‘The barn was originally built as the dairy facility for a juvenile reformatory.’
    • ‘By offering a study that covers a 150 plus year span, and carrying her examination to the closure of the Dwight Reformatory in 1972 Dodge offers the first major study of women's reformatories that extends beyond the progressive era.’
    • ‘Mid-Victorian child-saving institutions included certified reformatories, industrial schools, industrial training ships for boys, special voluntary rescue homes for girls, and industrial day schools for truants.’
    • ‘The state's potential liability for damages to victims of abuse in reformatories and other institutions could be €300 million less than the €1 billion estimated by the Comptroller and Auditor General, writes Ed Micheau.’
    • ‘Government, they insisted, had a duty to help the people effect their individual self-improvement, by enacting temperance reform and by building reformatories, asylums, and new-model prisons (all of which required public taxation).’
    • ‘A new generation of professional charity workers appeared; many of them were college trained women who practiced ‘scientific philanthropy’ in settlement houses, orphan asylums, juvenile courts and reformatories.’
    • ‘Few had specialized treatment services, and most defined delinquency in highly gendered ways, routinely sentencing girls to reformatories for sexual behavior for which boys were rarely punished.’
    • ‘Smith's workshops on songwriting, vocals and harmonica take him throughout his home state of Victoria and the rest of the country, into schools, prisons, reformatories, music stores - and ABC studios.’
    • ‘Many women were also sent to the reformatory on the suspicion of having a venereal disease.’
    • ‘When I was a girl, bad children were sent to reformatories - and reform was frightening, although as a word it meant to make things better.’
    • ‘The government followed up on these demands in 1900 by mandating the creation of public reformatories in each prefecture.’
    • ‘‘Institutions’ included orphanages, industrial schools, reformatories, hospitals, children's homes, day or boarding schools and foster care.’
    • ‘This is the independent body set up in 2002 to compensate those abused as children in industrial schools, reformatories and other institutions subject to State regulation or inspection.’
    • ‘Given that he has spent much of his life in reformatories and prisons, he is, we're led to believe, somewhat naive about the outside world.’
    • ‘Noel Kelly was sent to Daingean reformatory for stealing sweets and ended up an armed robber.’
    • ‘Other institutions such as reformatories were built in the 20th century, when it was believed most crime in Ireland was alcohol-related.’
    • ‘The reformatory was built in 1886 at a time when the idea of reformatories was new,’
    prison, penal institution, place of detention, lock-up, place of confinement, guardhouse, correctional facility, detention centre
    View synonyms


  • Tending or intended to produce reform.

    • ‘Robert first shot to prominence when he landed a part in Song for a Raggy Boy, the harrowing story about boys sent to a brutal 1930s reformatory school.’
    • ‘Chen spoke at a ceremony to express gratitude to the voluntary workers and several associations who have contributed significantly to the reformatory education of criminals.’
    • ‘Finally, in addition to the deterrent and reformatory there is also that divinely ordained punishment that is inflicted in order to meet the demand for equity in justice.’
    • ‘Most say they want to testify about their childhood experiences in residential care, mainly in industrial and reformatory schools.’
    • ‘It is not my intention to pathologize the thousands of living alumni of Ireland's industrial and reformatory schools by suggesting that they present a danger to society.’
    • ‘When he was nine he left a two-year-old child in a brook with a cut head, and received five years in a reformatory school as punishment.’
    • ‘The amendments also introduced the option of paying fines from 100 to 1000 leva instead of reformatory labour or imprisonment.’
    • ‘Previously only those who suffered abuse in industrial schools, reformatory schools, orphanages and children's homes for which public bodies had supervisory or inspection functions were included.’
    • ‘Its defendants praised the reformatory emphasis of Pentonville, its generally softer punishment regime, its system of solitary confinement, and its emphasis on prisoners' self-development.’
    • ‘It also takes in underage convicts receiving reformatory education.’
    • ‘In total, 331 male witnesses reported that 445 people associated with industrial or reformatory schools abused them, with 402 males and 43 females being identified.’
    • ‘Organized civil disobedience may have reformatory, revolutionary, or defensive objectives.’
    • ‘They talked of locking them up in reformatory hostels, but that was too expensive.’
    • ‘In 1930 the then Department of Education produced a 200-plus page report, but only eight pages referred to industrial and reformatory schools.’
    • ‘Those undergoing the reformatory education program would be prohibited from running until 10 years after they have completed the program.’
    • ‘They emphasised the need for taking urgent reformatory steps against the fast growing social evils.’
    • ‘Even the minority who were sent to reformatory schools for more ‘serious’ crimes would scarcely rank as criminals today, O'Sullivan argued.’
    correctional, punitive, penal, disciplinary, disciplinarian, castigatory, reformatory
    View synonyms