1

captive

adjective cap·tive \ ˈkap-tiv \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of captive

1 a :taken and held as or as if a prisoner of war
b (1) :kept within bounds :confined
(2) :of or relating to captive animals
  • captive breeding
2 :held under control of another but having the appearance of independence; especially :owned or controlled by another concern and operated for its needs rather than for an open market
  • a captive mine
3 :being such involuntarily because of a situation that makes free choice or departure difficult
  • a captive audience

Examples of captive in a Sentence

  1. The captive soldiers planned their escape.

  2. the captive soldiers were treated humanely by the guards

Recent Examples of captive from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of captive

Middle English, from Latin captivus, from captus, past participle of capere


2

captive

noun

Definition of captive

plural captives
1 :one who has been captured :one taken and held usually in confinement
  • Something there is in us that finds captivity captivating, particularly when the captives are prisoners of war.
  • —David Murray
  • He said that while one of the war-boats was being made ready to take the captives into the lagoon, he and his sister left the camp quietly and got away in their canoe.
  • —Joseph Conrad
2 :one captivated, dominated, or controlled
  • a captive to love
  • Unlike so many experts pronouncing on that subject today, though, he has never been a captive of a particular ideology or of a well-heeled interest group.
  • —Uwe E. Reinhardt
  • Crescent City residents love their culinary customs—too much, according to some critics, who complain that the city's chefs are captives of the past.
  • —Mitch Frank

First Known Use of captive

15th century



CAPTIVE Defined for Kids

1

captive

adjective cap·tive \ ˈkap-tiv \

Definition of captive for Students

1 :taken and held prisoner
  • captive soldiers
2 :kept within bounds or under control
  • captive animals
3 :as a prisoner
  • I was taken captive.
4 :unable to avoid watching or listening to something
  • a captive audience

2

captive

noun

Definition of captive for Students

:someone who is held prisoner


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