Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Carceral

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is carceral. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Carceral means “of, relating to, or suggesting a jail or prison.”

// The room was eerily quiet and had a carceral aesthetic. 

// Her article stressed the importance of rehabilitative measures in carceralinstitutions, such as career preparation and mental health support.

CARCERAL in Context

“Coordinate care inside and outside carceral settings.” — Bill Frist, Forbes, 15 June 2022

Did You Know?

Carceral is a member of a small but imposing family: like its close relations incarcerate (meaning “to imprison”) and incarceration (meaning “confinement in a jail or prison”), its ultimate source is the Latin word for “prison,” carcer. All three words have been in use since the 16th century, and all three are more common today than they were a century ago. Carceral has always been the rarest of the group, but its use has increased significantly since the turn of the current century, most often within academic or legal contexts.

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