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
Recent Examples on the Web President Lincoln had declared an end to slavery in the Confederate states with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but many slaves remained in captivity after that. Mike Cason, al, "Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed calls for reconciliation on Juneteenth," 18 June 2020 The 100-year-old was put out to pasture on his native island with 14 other giant tortoises after years of breeding in captivity on Santa Cruz Island, the BBC reported. Fox News, "Diego the tortoise, famous for saving species with his high sex drive, starts retirement," 17 June 2020 Earlier this month, China ordered its highest level of protection also forbidding the raising of pangolins in captivity. Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY, "Pangolin, animal linked to coronavirus, removed from China's list of traditional medicines," 15 June 2020 The finding could help researchers better raise the animals in captivity, experts say. Virginia Morell, National Geographic, "Pinker flamingos are more aggressive, intriguing study finds," 9 June 2020 Without Vaquero speaking up, authorities wouldn’t have known of the child’s captivity, said Lt. Carrie Wise, the commander over the Dallas Police Department’s child abuse squad. Ariana Giorgi, Dallas News, "Dallas children’s advocates worry abuse is being underreported since COVID-19 closed schools," 8 June 2020 The Cal Academy might as well have had a unicorn in captivity, or a leprechaun. Peter Hartlaub,, "A tribute to the Steinhart Aquarium two-headed snake, communal pet of our imaginations," 7 June 2020 The problem is that there are a few different factions: For one, there’s Russell, who’s in captivity and just wants to die. Dalene Rovenstine,, "The 100 season premiere recap: 'From the Ashes' … can they rise?," 21 May 2020 There are also theories that Peter died by suicide in captivity, and that Catherine’s coup was motivated by suspicions that Peter was going to divorce her, rather than her own political aspirations. Leah Marilla Thomas,, "How Catherine The Great’s Coup Against Her Husband Peter Really Happened," 15 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for captivity

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for captivity

Last Updated

26 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Captivity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce captivity (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for captivity

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with captivity

Spanish Central: Translation of captivity

Nglish: Translation of captivity for Spanish Speakers

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