cap·​ti·​vate ˈkap-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce captivate (audio)
captivated; captivating

transitive verb

: to influence and dominate by some special charm, art, or trait and with an irresistible appeal
We were captivated by her beauty.
The scenery captivated our attention.
archaic : seize, capture
captivation noun
captivator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for captivate

attract, allure, charm, captivate, fascinate, enchant mean to draw another by exerting a powerful influence.

attract applies to any degree or kind of ability to exert influence over another.

students attracted by the school's locale

allure implies an enticing by what is fair, pleasing, or seductive.

an alluring smile

charm implies the power of casting a spell over the person or thing affected and so compelling a response

charmed by their hospitality

, but it may, like captivate, suggest no more than evoking delight or admiration.

her performances captivated audiences

fascinate suggests a magical influence and tends to stress the ineffectiveness of attempts to resist.

a story that continues to fascinate children

enchant is perhaps the strongest of these terms in stressing the appeal of the agent and the degree of delight evoked in the subject.

hopelessly enchanted by her beauty

Examples of captivate in a Sentence

The play has been captivating audiences for years. the clown captivated the toddlers with his balloon tricks
Recent Examples on the Web The flowers, butterflies, and birds captivated her imagination which was wonderful to watch. Ariel Okin, Vogue, 23 Feb. 2024 Capitalize on it with innovative, mobile-first campaigns that leverage the 5G reality with captivating content that converts. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2024 Sri Lanka and Laos, occupying the seventh and eighth spots, captivated travelers with their unique combination of cultural heritage and natural beauty. Brianna Kamienski, The Arizona Republic, 23 Feb. 2024 In the mid-20th century, Capote and his swans could generate headlines and captivate an audience. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 22 Feb. 2024 Amenities and programming include live entertainment most nights, luxe beach cabanas, and captivating whale-watching tours. Juliet Izon, Glamour, 20 Feb. 2024 At the London premiere of the sci-fi movie last Thursday, Pugh looked captivating in a custom Valentino brown sequin, hooded gown paired with Aquazzura sandals. Escher Walcott, Peoplemag, 19 Feb. 2024 Jerry may no longer be with us, but the buying and selling of the band’s shirts is livelier than ever—a colorful microcosm (with just a little touch of grey) of why band merch captivates the heart and wallet. Susan Howson, Quartz, 18 Feb. 2024 Creating a strong personal brand is no longer just about viral tweets, cute sixty-second reels, captivating Instagram stories or quirky TikToks. Danni White, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'captivate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see captive entry 1

First Known Use

circa 1555, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of captivate was circa 1555

Dictionary Entries Near captivate

Cite this Entry

“Captivate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


cap·​ti·​vate ˈkap-tə-ˌvāt How to pronounce captivate (audio)
captivated; captivating
: to influence or fascinate by some special charm
captivation noun

More from Merriam-Webster on captivate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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