Definition of penal code in US English:

penal code

noun

  • 1The set of criminal laws of a particular country, society, etc.

  • 2(Irish History) a series of statutes passed by the Irish Parliament of 1695–1727 and annulled 1778–1829, which penalized the practice of Roman Catholicism in Ireland and imposed various civil and legal disabilities on Roman Catholics.

Origin

Late 18th century; earliest use found in William Dodd (1729–1777), Church of England clergyman and forger.