penal

Anything described as penal has something to do with legal punishment. Prisons are one important part of a country's penal system.

Whenever you see the adjective penal, you'll know it has to do with court-ordered punishment. A government's penal code, for example, is a list of crimes and the punishments imposed for each of them. You might notice how similar penal is to the word penalty — in fact, they both stem from the same Latin word, poena, and the Greek root poine, both of which mean "punishment."

Definitions of penal
1

adj of or relating to punishment

penal reform”
penal code”

adj subject to punishment by law

“a penal offense”
Synonyms:
punishable
illegal
prohibited by law or by official or accepted rules

adj serving as or designed to impose punishment

penal servitude”
Synonyms:
punitive, punitory
inflicting punishment

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.