ab·​duc·​tion | \ab-ˈdək-shən, əb-\

Definition of abduction 

1 : the action of abducting : the condition of being abducted

2 archaic : the unlawful carrying away of a woman for marriage or sexual intercourse

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Synonyms for abduction


hijacking (also highjacking), kidnapping (also kidnaping), rape, snatch [slang]

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Examples of abduction in a Sentence

discredited reports of abductions by aliens

Recent Examples on the Web

According to military and government sources, the abduction happened before dawn. Stavros Agorakis, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Tomorrow’s big ballot initiatives, briefly explained," 6 Nov. 2018 Scherf was serving a life sentence for the abduction and rape of a Spokane real-estate agent after making an appointment with her to see a home in 1995. Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times, "List of inmates whose sentences are changed from death row to life in prison," 12 Oct. 2018 The switch to more protective parenting happened gradually, but the 1980s was a turning point, marked by high-profile crimes including the 1981 abduction and murder of 6-year-old Adam Walsh from a Florida mall. Elizabeth Chuck /, NBC News, "How much risk is good for kids? Parents make the case for more adventurous childhoods," 26 June 2018 Authorities say that was the case in the abduction of three film students whose disappearance in March sparked a wave of protests in Guadalajara, Mexico's second-most populous city. Patrick J. Mcdonnell, latimes.com, "In Mexico, a doleful Mother's Day for those whose children are among the 'disappeared'," 10 May 2018 The exact circumstances and the reason behind the abduction and killing of Indian nationals are still unclear. Krishna Pokharel, WSJ, "India Finds Bodies of 39 Construction Workers Kidnapped in Iraq," 20 Mar. 2018 Over the years, there have been hundreds of suspects in Jacob's abduction. Christine Coppa, Good Housekeeping, "Mom Pens Heartbreaking Birthday Letter to Missing Son," 18 Feb. 2016 Education is key To reduce the risk of abduction, education is vital for both parents and children. Sheila Vilvens, Cincinnati.com, "What steps can you take to protect your child from a would-be abductor," 28 June 2018 The decision made exceptions for emergencies like bomb threats and child abductions. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "In Ruling on Cellphone Location Data, Supreme Court Makes Statement on Digital Privacy," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'abduction.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of abduction

1632, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for abduction

borrowed from Late Latin abdūctiōn-, abdūctiō "withdrawal, removal, allurement," from Latin abdūcere "to lead away" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns — more at abduct

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Statistics for abduction

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for abduction

The first known use of abduction was in 1632

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More Definitions for abduction


ab·​duc·​tion | \ab-ˈdək-shən, əb- \

Legal Definition of abduction 

1a : the action of abducting abduction of a robbery victim

b : the tort or felony of abducting a person

2 : the unlawful carrying away of a wife or female child or ward for the purpose of marriage or sexual intercourse

Note: Sense 2 has its roots in common law. As statutorily defined, mainly in the nineteenth century, abduction was generally stated to include taking away or detention of a woman under a certain age, usually 16 or 18, with or without her consent or knowledge of her age.

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a private place of worship

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