Pronunciation: (pen'uns), [key]
1. a punishment undergone in token of penitence for sin.
2. a penitential discipline imposed by church authority.
3. a sacrament, as in the Roman Catholic Church, consisting in a confession of sin, made with sorrow and with the intention of amendment, followed by the forgiveness of the sin.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.