cal·​a·​boose | \ ˈka-lə-ˌbüs How to pronounce calaboose (audio) \

Definition of calaboose

: jail especially : a local jail

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Synonyms for calaboose


bastille, big house [slang], bridewell, brig, can, clink [slang], cooler, coop, guardroom, hock, hold, hoosegow, jail, jailhouse, joint [slang], jug, lockup, nick [British slang], pen, penitentiary, pokey [slang], prison, quod [British slang], slam, slammer, stir [slang], stockade, tolbooth [Scottish]

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Did You Know?

Calaboose had been part of the English language for almost a century when John S. Farmer included the term in his 1889 book Americanisms - Old & New, defining it as "the common gaol or prison." Farmer also made mention of a verb calaboose, meaning "to imprison," but that term was apparently lost in the years between then and now. "Calaboose" is Spanish in origin; it's from the Spanish word calabozo, meaning "dungeon."

Examples of calaboose in a Sentence

fittingly, the calaboose in that one-horse town consisted of a single cell

Recent Examples on the Web

Brooks was escorted to the calaboose and thrown into the main holding tank with the other prisoners. Skip Hollandsworth, Esquire, "How Police Failed to Find America's First Serial Killer," 5 Apr. 2016 All Chenneville had to do was ride up on his horse, remove the smoking gun or bloody knife from the killer's hand, and drag him to the calaboose—the local jail, which was just down the hall from the police department. Skip Hollandsworth, Esquire, "How Police Failed to Find America's First Serial Killer," 5 Apr. 2016

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

First Known Use of calaboose

1792, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for calaboose

Spanish calabozo dungeon

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Time Traveler for calaboose

The first known use of calaboose was in 1792

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with calaboose

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Comments on calaboose

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


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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