purgatory

[pur-guh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee]
noun, plural purgatories.
1.
(in the belief of Roman Catholics and others) a condition or place in which the souls of those dying penitent are purified from venial sins, or undergo the temporal punishment that, after the guilt of mortal sin has been remitted, still remains to be endured by the sinner.
2.
(initial capital letter, italics) . Italian Purgatorio [poor-gah-taw-ryaw] . the second part of Dante's Divine Comedy, in which the repentant sinners are depicted. Compare inferno ( def 3 ), paradise ( def 7 ).
3.
any condition or place of temporary punishment, suffering, expiation, or the like.
adjective
4.
serving to cleanse, purify, or expiate.

Origin:
1175–1225; (noun) Middle English purgatorie (< Anglo-French) < Medieval Latin pūrgātōrium, noun use of neuter of Late Latin pūrgātōrius purging, equivalent to pūrgā(re) to purge + -tōrius -tory1; (adj.) Middle English purgatorie < Late Latin pūrgātōrius

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World English Dictionary
purgatory (ˈpɜːɡətərɪ, -trɪ)
 
n
1.  chiefly RC Church a state or place in which the souls of those who have died in a state of grace are believed to undergo a limited amount of suffering to expiate their venial sins and become purified of the remaining effects of mortal sin
2.  a place or condition of suffering or torment, esp one that is temporary
 
[C13: from Old French purgatoire, from Medieval Latin pūrgātōrium, literally: place of cleansing, from Latin pūrgāre to purge]

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

purgatory
early 13c., from M.L. purgatorium (St. Bernard, c.1130), from L.L., "means of cleansing," prop. neut. of purgatorius (adj.) "purging, cleansing," from L. purgare (see purge).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

purgatory definition


In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, the condition of souls of the dead who die with some punishment (though not damnation) due them for their sins. Purgatory is conceived as a condition of suffering and purification that leads to union with God in heaven. Purgatory is not mentioned in the Bible; Catholic authorities defend the teaching on purgatory by arguing that prayer for the dead is an ancient practice of Christianity and that this practice assumes that the dead can be in a state of suffering — a state that the living can improve by their prayers.

Note: A “purgatory” is, by extension, any place of suffering, usually for past misdeeds.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Hotel guests step into a stark white chamber, representing purgatory, before
  choosing their path.
The animals are currently trapped in a kind of legal purgatory.
Everything from a robust doctrine of purgatory to dietary laws to the usual
  holiness tradition stuff.
And if so, it boosts the popular fan theory that the island on which the cast
  is stranded is purgatory.
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