cap·​ture | \ˈkap-chər, -shər\

Definition of capture 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of capturing: such as

a : an act of catching, winning, or gaining control by force, stratagem, or guile the capture of the city by enemy forces

b : a move in a board game (such as chess or checkers) that gains an opponent's piece

c : the absorption by an atom, nucleus, or particle of a subatomic particle that often results in subsequent emission of radiation or in fission

d : the act of recording in a permanent file data capture motion capture

2 : one that has been taken (such as a prize ship)


captured; capturing\ ˈkap-​chə-​riŋ , ˈkap-​shriŋ \

Definition of capture (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to take captive also : to gain control of especially by force capture a city

b : to gain or win especially through effort captured 60 percent of the vote

2a : to emphasize, represent, or preserve (something, such as a scene, mood, or quality) in a more or less permanent form … at any such moment as a photograph might capture— C. E. Montague

b : to record in a permanent file (as in a computer) The system is used to capture data relating to the buying habits of young people.

3 : to captivate and hold the interest of The performer captured our attention.

4 : to take according to the rules of a game A knight captured his pawn.

5 : to bring about the capture of (a subatomic particle)

6 astronomy : to draw into the gravitational influence of a larger body Asteroids were thought to be too small to capture a moon, but the moon might be a fragment that broke off.— Kenneth Chang

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Other Words from capture


capturable \ ˈkap-​chə-​rə-​bəl , -​shrə-​bəl \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for capture

Synonyms: Noun

captive, internee, prisoner

Synonyms: Verb

bag, catch, collar, cop [slang], corral, get, glom, grab, grapple, hook, land, nab, nail, net, nobble [British slang], rap, seize, snag, snap (up), snare, snatch, trap

Antonyms: Noun


Antonyms: Verb


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for capture


catch, capture, trap, snare, entrap, ensnare, bag mean to come to possess or control by or as if by seizing. catch implies the seizing of something in motion or in flight or in hiding. caught the dog as it ran by capture suggests taking by overcoming resistance or difficulty. capture an enemy stronghold trap, snare, entrap, ensnare imply seizing by some device that holds the one caught at the mercy of the captor. trap and snare apply more commonly to physical seizing. trap animals snared butterflies with a net entrap and ensnare more often are figurative. entrapped the witness with a trick question a sting operation that ensnared burglars bag implies shooting down a fleeing or distant prey. bagged a brace of pheasants

Examples of capture in a Sentence


the capture of the city by enemy forces a Spanish treasure ship was the most valuable capture ever taken by that privateer


They were captured by enemy soldiers. using traps to capture mice The city was captured by the Romans. She captured 60 percent of the vote in the last election. The company plans on capturing a larger segment of the market. The show has captured the attention of teenagers.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In 2013, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty in the Boston Marathon bombing in a seven-minute proceeding that marked his first appearance in public since his capture in mid-April 2013., "This day in history," 10 July 2018 Speaking to Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo in an interview that aired Sunday, Cheney said the techniques, such as waterboarding, helped aid in the capture of Usama bin Laden in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "Former VP Cheney: 'Enhanced interrogation' should still be in place, it's not torture," 13 May 2018 In return, Lewis shared his memories of living in Africa before his brutal capture by Dahomian women warriors. Sam Gillette,, "Zora Neale Hurston's Book About the Slave Trade's Last Survivor Is Finally Released After 87 Years," 8 May 2018 West Ham will want to jump at this opportunity and with their recent upturn in form almost ensuring survival, Moyes is seriously interested in the capture of Evans., "West Ham Jump to Front of Jonny Evans Queue as Arsenal's Relationship Sours With West Brom," 24 Feb. 2018 Following Barcelona’s recent capture of Clement Lenglet from Sevilla, it is believed that Mina would now be fifth-choice in Ernesto Valverde’s defensive ranks behind Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Thomas Vermaelen and Lenglet., "Everton Plotting Ambitious Double Swoop for Barcelona Defensive Stars Ahead of New Season," 13 July 2018 Big carriers add capacity when times are good, trying to fill planes and capture market share. Nicolas Parasie, WSJ, "Chateau Margaux for Seat 2A: Emirates Rewrites Rules for Airlines," 12 July 2018 What that news coverage doesn’t capture is the mayhem, destruction, and loss of life, which is why people can simply root for their onscreen hero. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Watching Skyscraper is like watching someone play a video game starring The Rock," 11 July 2018 Arsenault, 24, a Shawnee High School graduate from Medford, N.J., fired rounds of 68 and 69 in 90-plus degree heat to finish at 5-under-par 137 and capture medalist honors. Joe Juliano,, "Shawnee grad Zach Arsenault takes medalist honors at U.S. Amateur qualifier," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The line was apparently improvised by a kid visiting the set that day, and Hemsworth delivers it with a kid’s exuberance, capturing the joy of a genre expectation fulfilled. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "The best superhero stories admit that superheroes are ridiculous," 11 July 2018 The hunt for Ali came to an end early this morning when Brandon Crawford, a seasoned alligator hunter, along with another man captured Ali using a frog to lure her to the shore. Indianapolis Star, "Alligator made home in Indiana pond," 11 July 2018 After a six-month manhunt across at least three continents, he was captured in Guatemala and faces trial. The Economist, "Latin America’s new media are growing up," 14 July 2018 The cities have a reference related to the family that was captured in that specific city, which is in fact their own city. Luisa Zargani | Wwd,, "Kim Kardashian West and family star in Fendi’s #MeandMyPeekaboo campaign," 10 July 2018 The burglary was partially captured on video surveillance. Staff Report, Daily Southtown, "Southland police blotter," 10 July 2018 The seasons are captured in North into Spring, Journey Into Summer, Autumn Across America, and Wandering Through Winter. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Teale's Legacy Lives On At Trail Wood Sanctuary," 9 July 2018 Her catch was captured on video by bystander Ayon Dasgupta. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Sizable shark caught off beach along Surfside," 9 July 2018 Of all the exoplanets, planets outside of Earth's solar system, discovered in recent years, one that's captured some of the most attention is Kepler-186f. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Study Shows Exoplanet Has a Stable Axis Just Like Earth," 29 June 2018

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


circa 1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1574, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for capture


Middle French, from Latin captura, from captus — see captive entry 1

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Statistics for capture

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for capture

The first known use of capture was circa 1542

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More Definitions for capture



English Language Learners Definition of capture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the act of taking and holding someone as a prisoner or of being taken as a prisoner

: the act of getting control of something

: the act of putting information in a form that a computer can use or read



English Language Learners Definition of capture (Entry 2 of 2)

: to take and hold (someone) as a prisoner especially by using force

: to catch (an animal)

: to get control of (a place) especially by using force


cap·​ture | \ˈkap-chər \
captured; capturing

Kids Definition of capture

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to take and hold especially by force The eagle captured its prey.

2 : to win or get through effort The candidate captured more than half the vote.

3 : to get and hold The seaweed strewn about … had captured her attention.— Kevin Henkes, Olive's Ocean

4 : to put into a lasting form She captured the scene in a photo.



Kids Definition of capture (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act of taking and holding especially by force

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More from Merriam-Webster on capture

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for capture

Spanish Central: Translation of capture

Nglish: Translation of capture for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of capture for Arabic Speakers

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