Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


verb es·cape \is-ˈkāp, es-, dial iks-ˈkāp\

Simple Definition of escape

  • : to get away from a place (such as a prison) where you are being held or kept

  • : to get away from a dangerous place or situation

  • : to get away from something that is difficult or unpleasant

Full Definition of escape


  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to get away (as by flight) <escaped from prison> b :  to issue from confinement <gas is escaping> c of a plant :  to run wild from cultivation

  3. 2 :  to avoid a threatening evil <the boat sank but the crew escaped>

  4. transitive verb
  5. 1 :  to get free of :  break away from <escape the jungle> <escape the solar system>

  6. 2 :  to get or stay out of the way of :  avoid <efforts to escape poverty>

  7. 3 :  to fail to be noticed or recallable by <his name escapes me>

  8. 4 a :  to issue from <a smile escaped me> b :  to be uttered involuntarily by <a sigh of relief escaped her>

es·cap·er noun

Examples of escape

  1. They managed to escape from the burning building.

  2. He needed a vacation to escape the routine of daily life.

  3. She moved to the city to escape the memory of her mother's death.

  4. trying to help people to escape poverty

  5. trying to help people to escape from poverty

  6. He succeeded in escaping punishment for many years.

  7. A few passengers somehow escaped injury.

  8. She barely escaped death when her car slid off the road.

  9. Several passengers escaped without injury.

Origin of escape

Middle English, from Anglo-French escaper, eschaper, from Vulgar Latin *excappare, from Latin ex- + Late Latin cappa head covering, cloak

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of escape

escape, avoid, evade, elude, shun, eschew mean to get away or keep away from something. escape stresses the fact of getting away or being passed by not necessarily through effort or by conscious intent <nothing escapes her sharp eyes>. avoid stresses forethought and caution in keeping clear of danger or difficulty <try to avoid past errors>. evade implies adroitness, ingenuity, or lack of scruple in escaping or avoiding <evaded the question by changing the subject>. elude implies a slippery or baffling quality in the person or thing that escapes <what she sees in him eludes me>. shun often implies an avoiding as a matter of habitual practice or policy and may imply repugnance or abhorrence <you have shunned your responsibilities>. eschew implies an avoiding or abstaining from as unwise or distasteful <a playwright who eschews melodrama>.



noun es·cape

Simple Definition of escape

  • : an act of escaping from a place, situation, etc.

  • : a way of escaping from a place, situation, etc.

  • : an occurrence in which an amount of liquid or gas passes out through a hole or crack in a container

Full Definition of escape

  1. 1 :  an act or instance of escaping: as a :  flight from confinement b :  evasion of something undesirable c :  leakage or outflow especially of a fluid d :  distraction or relief from routine or reality

  2. 2 :  a means of escape

  3. 3 :  a cultivated plant run wild

Examples of escape

  1. The prisoners attempted a daring escape.

  2. He celebrated his escape from his boring job with a long vacation.

  3. She had a lucky escape when she wasn't injured in the accident.

  4. She managed to avoid serious injury, but it was a narrow escape.

  5. The door was locked; there was no escape.

  6. Gardening offered an escape from her busy life.

  7. an accidental escape of poisonous gases

  8. trying to prevent further escape of liquid

14th Century

First Known Use of escape

14th century



adjective es·cape

Definition of escape

  1. 1 :  providing a means of escape <escape literature>

  2. 2 :  providing a means of evading a regulation, claim, or commitment <an escape clause in a contract>


First Known Use of escape


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up escape? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

100 pounds 2.2 pounds 196.5 pounds 16.96 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.