PENITEN'TIARY, adjective Relating to penance, or to the rules and measures of penance.
PENITEN'TIARY, noun One that prescribes the rules and measures of penance.
1. A penitent; one that does penance.
2. At the court of Rome, an office in which are examined and delivered out the secret bulls, graces or dispensations relating to cases of conscience, confession, etc.
3. An officer in some cathedrals, vested with power from the bishop to absolve in cases reserved to him. The pope has a grand penitentiary who is a cardinal and is chief of the other penitentiaries.
4. A house of correction in which offenders are confined for punishment and reformation, and compelled to labor; a workhouse. A state prison is a penitentiary