cap·​tiv·​i·​ty | \ kap-ˈti-və-tē How to pronounce captivity (audio) \

Definition of captivity

1 : the state of being captive some birds thrive in captivity
2 obsolete : a group of captives

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Examples of captivity in a Sentence

The prisoners were released from captivity. the wildlife refuge raises endangered species in captivity and then releases them into the wild

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Other times, in particular with cats in captivity, the animals will attack because of various stressors. Rachel Desantis,, "Lioness Eats Her Two Newborn Cubs at German Zoo: 'This Is a Kind of Natural Behavior'," 8 Aug. 2019 The lynx’s parents were born in captivity in northwestern Spain before being brought to the center in 2008. Washington Post, "First Eurasian Lynx born in Pyrenees in almost a century," 8 Aug. 2019 Sethe had killed her daughter in order to prevent her from living a life in captivity. Wei-huan Chen, Houston Chronicle, "How Toni Morrison influenced the 2019 horror film 'Us'," 7 Aug. 2019 The life expectancy of otters in captivity is around 18-20 years. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "North Carolina Aquarium Mourns Loss of Famous River Otter," 2 Aug. 2019 Consider the captive Scrutinize opportunities to photograph wild animals in captivity. National Geographic, "Is the food appropriate and safely provided?," 31 July 2019 Western lowland gorillas typically live for 30-40 years in the wild and 50 years in captivity. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Trudy, the oldest gorilla in captivity, dies at 63 in Arkansas," 26 July 2019 Most gorillas in zoos now are born in captivity, but Trudy was born in the wild. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "The oldest living western lowland gorilla in a zoo has died at 63," 26 July 2019 For the past year, the tiny Maryland company employed by the federal government to inspect U.S. immigration detention centers has painted a rosy picture of life in captivity. Los Angeles Times, "Private inspectors paint a rosy picture of U.S. immigrant detention centers. Audits find otherwise," 26 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'captivity.' 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 captivity

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for captivity

Last Updated

12 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for captivity

The first known use of captivity was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of captivity

: the state of being kept in a place (such as a prison or a cage) and not being able to leave or be free : the state or condition of being captive


cap·​tiv·​i·​ty | \ kap-ˈti-və-tē How to pronounce captivity (audio) \

Kids Definition of captivity

: the state of being held prisoner : the state of being captive

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More from Merriam-Webster on captivity

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with captivity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for captivity

Spanish Central: Translation of captivity

Nglish: Translation of captivity for Spanish Speakers

Comments on captivity

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


to move or obtain by small maneuvers

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