Definition of penal in English:



  • 1Relating to, used for, or prescribing the punishment of offenders under the legal system.

    ‘the campaign for penal reform’
    • ‘In the same way that hospitals are the acute end of the healthcare system, prisons should be the acute end of the penal system.’
    • ‘Quite frankly, I am of the view that you will be able to better deal with those mental health issues in the provincial penal system as opposed to the federal penal system.’
    • ‘In my judgment it is legitimate to have regard to public perception when considering the characteristics of a penal system.’
    • ‘What sort of a penal system do we have when those who are supposed to confine the prisoners cannot or do not protect them?’
    • ‘Humane and rational reform of the penal system is needed urgently.’
    • ‘But a federal court turned the company down, noting that the rights of the public to information about the penal system do not include a promise of unfettered access.’
    • ‘Concerned with the increase in violent crimes in the last decades of the twentieth century, many people are demanding a stricter police control and reforms in the penal system which would extend the time of incarceration.’
    • ‘Can you imagine, for example, the crisis that would be created within our penal system if lifers were never to have hope of changed circumstances?’
    • ‘A spate of prison suicides has highlighted the terrible state of Britain's penal system.’
    • ‘However, he said it was important that the Irish penal system still offered prisoners some hope of rehabilitation and reintegration into society.’
    • ‘It is far too late for us to start thinking about rehabilitation as the primary objective of our penal system once young offenders have been through this useless youth justice system, but that is exactly what we have done.’
    • ‘A fabulously expensive and enormous penal system whose rapidly mounting social costs will be borne, ultimately, by every woman, man, and child in the country.’
    • ‘Institutional racism dogs educational, legal and penal systems on all continents.’
    • ‘Granted, prison is a place for punishment, but our penal system seems to be committing worse crimes than most of the people who are in jail.’
    • ‘Any transformation of the penal system must start with the redesign of prison buildings.’
    • ‘Power can be conceptualized as control over resources that are desired by other people, and can be exerted in numerous ways including through legal and penal systems.’
    • ‘I did my time (the best part of an hour) in a prison that was briefly the most notorious in the Scottish penal system.’
    • ‘The Judaeo-Christian tradition insists that the primary aim of any penal system is to reform and restore.’
    • ‘More than 90 countries worldwide have abolished corporal punishment in schools and penal systems for youth.’
    • ‘Those people wanted punishment to be brought back into the penal system, but what has happened?’
    disciplinary, punitive, corrective, correctional, retributive
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(of an act or offense) punishable by law.
      • ‘In each case it can be noted that the classification certificate is concerned with the act of supply whereas the penal enforcement extends, in addition, to the act of offering to supply.’
      • ‘Under the Second Claimant's penal code an accused is entitled to free representation (at the cost of the Second Claimant) in such circumstances.’
      • ‘Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.’
      • ‘The Court drew a distinction between the retroactive effect of penal provisions and retroactive effect outside the criminal sphere.’
      • ‘None shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the same time when it was committed.’
      • ‘The new legislation could, said commentators, enshrine the most repressive aspects of martial law in the penal code.’
      • ‘Thus the basic principle ought to be the harm principle: the reduction of harm to others is always a good reason in support of penal legislation.’
      • ‘Several of the 20 readers who had e-mailed the newspaper expressed shock that oral sex remained an offence under the penal code in the modern city-state.’
      • ‘The original interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment was to prevent the state from enforcing labor contracts with penal sanctions.’
      • ‘But now it is a penal offence to talk about this genocide in the context of events that are funded externally or organised by foundations where ‘material interest’ could be at stake.’
      • ‘It is trite law that, in general, foreign penal acts of a confiscatory nature are not recognised in England.’
      • ‘Or the subject matter may call for a strict interpretation of the statutory language, as in penal legislation.’
      • ‘The power of the court to discharge an order giving permission to proceed, made on an application without notice to the other side, on the ground of non-disclosure, is a disciplinary, indeed penal, jurisdiction.’
      • ‘No international penal tribunal of general jurisdiction has been created.’
      • ‘However, after that meeting the officials began to investigate the appellant's penal liability.’
      • ‘He then considered the question of whether it was necessary to establish an intention to injure where the conspiracy involved action that contravened penal law.’
      • ‘The penal code does not criminalize such conduct, and would be clearly unconstitutional if it did.’
      • ‘It is said therefore that the power to punish or to impose consequences which are penal or punitive is an exclusively judicial one.’
      • ‘First, from the point of view of the advocate the jurisdiction is penal.’
      • ‘Discipline in junior soccer is strict, and the fines for breaches are penal.’
      disciplinary, punitive, corrective, correctional, retributive
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Old French penal, from Latin poenalis, from poena pain, penalty.