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

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 When in captivity, blue tangs can live up to 20 years, according to National Geographic. Like Dory in the movies, real life blue tangs are known for their vibrant blue and yellow colors. Caitlin Mclean, USA TODAY, 25 July 2022 Pandas are notoriously bad at breeding both in captivity and in the wild, and Ying Ying and Le Le did not succeed at mating naturally until 2020 (the pair has yet to reproduce). Jennifer Jett, NBC News, 21 July 2022 An An, the world’s oldest giant male panda in captivity and under human care, has died at the age of 35 in Hong Kong. Byjon Haworth, ABC News, 21 July 2022 For 13 years, Ying Ying and Le Le did not mate (pandas in captivity are notoriously disinterested in procreation unless conditions are right), until the coronavirus pandemic struck and the park temporarily shut to the public in spring 2020. Karina Tsui, Washington Post, 21 July 2022 On Thursday, the oldest male giant panda in captivity died at the age of 35 in Hong Kong. Juliana Perri,, 21 July 2022 On the third day in captivity, a Tuesday, helicopters could be heard overhead and a loud knock came at the door, followed by the sound of a power tool drilling at the lock. Globe Staff,, 20 July 2022 Giant pandas are notoriously hard to breed in captivity, but after years of decline, their numbers in the wild have increased in recent years. Kathleen Magramo, CNN, 20 July 2022 Also, a British aid worker detained by the Donetsk separatists has died in captivity, a separatist official and a U.K. charity involved with his case said Friday. Arkansas Online, 16 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of captivity

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near captivity

captive bolt



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Last Updated

2 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Captivity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for captivity


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

More from Merriam-Webster on captivity

Nglish: Translation of captivity for Spanish Speakers


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