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 On Saturday, 14 university students and staff who had been abducted from Greenfield University in Kaduna state on April 20 were released after spending more than a month in captivity. Sam Olukoya, Star Tribune, 30 May 2021 Still, Saliveros cautions that the calls Bettoni observed in captivity may not resemble those in the wild. Sofia Moutinho, Science | AAAS, 26 May 2021 And no one in the film argues that Native captivity is a fate worse than death. Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times, 8 Mar. 2021 The code consisted of six short articles reminding service members that battle extends to captivity. Paige Williams, The New Yorker, 18 Dec. 2020 To end the game, the king either reached sanctuary or yielded to captivity. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 June 2020 The bears are part of the European Endangered Species Programmes (EEP) breeding program for polar bears, which works to maintain the genetic diversity of polar bears in captivity. Jack Guy, CNN, 19 May 2021 Kate Willis accuses Jeanette of seeing her in captivity during her television interview. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, 18 May 2021 Tigers are more populous in captivity than in the wild. Sara Tabin, Forbes, 17 May 2021

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

3 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Captivity.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for captivity



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

More from Merriam-Webster on captivity

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for captivity

Nglish: Translation of captivity for Spanish Speakers


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