Definition of borstal in US English:


(also Borstal)


  • A custodial institution for youthful offenders.

    • ‘The governor of a borstal institution tries to reform a group of juvenile delinquents through sympathy rather than punishment.’
    • ‘Simply put, things don't exactly go well at borstal.’
    • ‘He would have remained a borstal boy with a grudge against society who would probably have ended up in prison for a single sadistic killing.’
    • ‘When I was young, kids who had been to borstal had a mark on their temple with Indian ink so you knew who they were.’
    • ‘After a time teaching drama in borstals, prisons and community centres, he suffered two more breakdowns until one day, while sitting on a bus, his persistent angst, dread and fear of failure simply evaporated.’
    • ‘The punishment that we all most feared was being sent to a borstal.’
    • ‘When someone informed on him he was charged with handling stolen goods and sentenced to one year in borstal.’
    • ‘‘I thought he must be on day-release from borstal,’ recalls Belcher.’
    • ‘For years, he had been in and out of the authorities' grasp, in borstal, and on a particular Swedish brand of psychiatric probation.’
    • ‘These schools, which are often like Victorian borstals, still exist.’
    • ‘After its aristocratic owners moved on in the late 1930s, the house served in turns as a farming school, a centre for displaced people, a boys' private school and a borstal.’
    • ‘But without rehabilitation, the juvenile car gangs are likely to return from the modern day borstals, more menacing than before.’
    • ‘We performed in schools, old people's homes, borstals and prisons.’
    • ‘He was involved in crime from an early age, being sent to approved schools and borstal before ending up prison.’
    • ‘Let's build more hospitals, prisons and borstals.’
    • ‘They formed part of a raucous theatre group called Van Load, visiting borstals, pubs and the occasional prison to bring theatre to the masses.’
    • ‘Then it felt like everything stopped, because I felt like I had no support and was really depressed for a few months about the prospect of going to borstal or somewhere.’
    • ‘In 1846 young offenders were separated from adults and sent to industrial schools, the precursors of borstal institutions, for treatment and rehabilitation.’
    • ‘From approved school he graduated through detention centre to borstal, finally winding up in prison.’
    • ‘Famously banned from the BBC's Play for Today slot in the 1970s, Clarke's harrowing drama about life inside a borstal was remade two years later as an equally notorious film.’
    prison, penal institution, place of detention, lock-up, place of confinement, guardhouse, correctional facility, detention centre
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Early 20th century: named after the village of Borstal in southern England, where the first of these was established.