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cap·​ture ˈkap-chər How to pronounce capture (audio)
plural captures
: an act or instance of capturing: such as
: an act of catching, winning, or gaining control by force, stratagem, or guile
the capture of the city by enemy forces
The criminals avoided/eluded/escaped capture.
… authorities increased the reward for information leading to his captureRachel Schilke
: a move in a board game (such as chess or checkers) that gains an opponent's piece
In the original game of checkers, capture was optional, as it is in modern chess.Jack Botermans et al.
: the absorption by an atom, nucleus, or particle of a subatomic particle that often results in subsequent emission of radiation or in fission
: the act of recording in a permanent file
data capture
motion capture
: any of various methods of removing a substance from something (such as emissions produced by an industrial process) to reduce its presence in the atmosphere
especially : carbon capture sense 1
Coal-fired plants operating in 2040 and beyond would have to use carbon capture and storage technology with 90% capture of carbon. Mike Tony
… mercury capture in incinerator flue gas can be carried out … with high removal efficiencies … Fabrizio Scala
: someone or something that is taken or captured (such as a war prize)


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captured; capturing ˈkap-chə-riŋ How to pronounce capture (audio)
; captures

transitive verb

: to take and hold (someone or something) as a captive or prisoner
also : to gain control of especially by force
capture a city
: to gain or win especially through effort
captured 60 percent of the vote
: 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 captureC. E. Montague
: 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.
: to captivate and hold the interest of
The performer captured our attention.
: to take according to the rules of a game
A knight captured his pawn.
: to bring about the capture of (a subatomic particle)
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
ˈkap-chə-rə-bəl How to pronounce capture (audio)
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

Noun the capture of the city by enemy forces a Spanish treasure ship was the most valuable capture ever taken by that privateer Verb 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
The reward for information leading to his capture has increased from $10,000 to $20,000. Emily Deletter, USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2023 Some in the community are growing restless over the lack of a capture. Holly Yan, CNN, 8 Sep. 2023 According to experts, however, neither example is particularly representative of the vast majority of escapes, which tend to be spontaneous, attempted during transit or a temporary stay at a non-prison facility, and end in capture. Leo Sands, Washington Post, 7 Sep. 2023 The regulatory capture of the agency is so blatant as to be mundane, and its revolving-door policy with industry as unapologetic as in other federal agencies. Jan Dutkiewicz, The New Republic, 5 Sep. 2023 Also, if a notification pops up in the capture area or makes a sound, it will be recorded. Jim Rossman, Dallas News, 3 Sep. 2023 There is currently no evidence Cavalcante is getting any help from family or friends to evade capture following his escape from prison, the district attorney said. Meredith Deliso, ABC News, 1 Sep. 2023 About two dozen direct-air capture projects are underway around the world, and last week the Biden administration announced the first winners of its US $3.5 billion purse for the technology. IEEE Spectrum, 15 Aug. 2023 Several scientists agreed with making some investment in direct air capture. Time, 11 Aug. 2023
Her remarkable ability to capture the essence of her subjects and convey their stories in a visually stunning and emotionally rich way is incomparable. Tish Weinstock, Vogue, 10 Sep. 2023 Arena would go on to become the winningest coach in league history, capturing three more MLS Cups and two Supporters’ Shields with the Galaxy. Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times, 10 Sep. 2023 The backstage and behind-the-scenes footage includes some of the most delightful — and funniest — moments in the documentary, capturing the childlike wonder and optimism that cloak the musician. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Sep. 2023 Together, Jamie and Kaley marveled over the Ben Nye Final Seal setting spray, even capturing it in action. Jacqueline Saguin, Good Housekeeping, 10 Sep. 2023 Later that day, agency workers captured the cub and shot the 10-year-old female grizzly with authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, because grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act. CBS News, 9 Sep. 2023 The Roblox app will capture the movements of 40 points on the user’s face, then use that data to give expressions to the user's Roblox avatar that accurately convey their emotions. Lauren Goode, WIRED, 8 Sep. 2023 The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Vaughn, who is a singer-songwriter in her own right, about crafting music that not only captures My Little Pony’s steadfast themes of friendship and magic, but pays tribute to its distinctive eras. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Aug. 2023 The shooting yesterday afternoon sent the campus into lockdown for about two hours as police searched for and captured a suspect. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 29 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'capture.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


circa 1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1574, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of capture was circa 1542

Cite this Entry

“Capture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
cap·​ture ˈkap-chər How to pronounce capture (audio)
: the act of catching or gaining control by force or trickery
: something or someone captured


2 of 2 verb
captured; capturing ˈkap-chə-riŋ How to pronounce capture (audio)
: to take and hold especially by force
capture a city
: to gain or win as if by force
captured first prize
: preserve entry 1 sense 1
captured her smile on film


from early French capture "capture," from Latin captura (same meaning), from captus "taken (as a prisoner)," from capere "to take" — related to accept, catch, receive

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