cap·​ture | \ ˈkap-chər How to pronounce capture (audio) , -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 How to pronounce capture (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from capture


capturable \ ˈkap-​chə-​rə-​bəl How to pronounce capture (audio) , -​shrə-​bəl \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for capture

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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

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: Noun The chloroplast-capture events also explain why researchers sometimes get inconsistent results when reconstructing the evolutionary histories of plants: Nuclear and chloroplast genomes may have different pedigrees. Quanta Magazine, "Plant Cells of Different Species Can Swap Organelles," 20 Jan. 2021 Woody Harrelson’s onboard as villainous fellow symbiote host Cletus Kasady, and performance-capture master Andy Serkis is directing, because why not. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "65 Movies We Can’t Wait to See in 2021," 5 Jan. 2021 The game is full of vivid characters that come to life through sharp writing and excellent, subtle vocal and motion-capture performances (save for the prominent woodenness of Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Silverhand). Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "Ars Technica’s best games of 2020," 22 Dec. 2020 Remote work has sometimes disrupted tasks such as testing and bug-fixing, recording original music and doing motion-capture work. Dave Sebastian, WSJ, "‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Is Taken Off PlayStation Store, Players Offered Refunds," 18 Dec. 2020 But United is committing to remove all of its carbon permanently using direct-air-capture technology. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, "The Weekly Planet: United Wants to Have Its Carbon and Eat It Too," 15 Dec. 2020 Most of these carbon-capture projects are run by fossil fuel companies. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Exxon Mobil shelves a carbon capture project using technology that could slow climate change," 8 Dec. 2020 Their missions include training and advising Somali Army and counterterrorism troops and conducting kill-or-capture raids targeting Shabab militants. New York Times, "Trump Orders All American Troops Out of Somalia," 4 Dec. 2020 Hydrogen, like carbon-capture-and-storage, offers the chance to push those real cuts closer to an actual zero. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "The hydrogen economy: Hyped for years, the most abundant element in the universe is finally having its moment," 19 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Their task is not to capture a working majority but to mobilize a passionate minority to press for fundamental changes in how power works. Michael Kazin, The New Republic, "How the Democratic Party Can Create a Majoritarian Coalition," 11 Feb. 2021 The rookie quarterback broke a number of rookie records during the season and is the frontrunner to capture the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award. oregonlive, "Los Angeles Chargers hire Brandon Staley as their new head coach," 18 Jan. 2021 As part of the project’s gray big-eared bat effort, Aldridge’s job was to capture photos of the enigmatic species to help the public learn more about them. Cordilia James, Animals, "Rare photos reveal U.K.’s disappearing ‘whispering’ bats," 23 Dec. 2020 But the idea for adapting the concept for the real world would be to capture large amounts of the greenhouse gas from either a factory or directly from the air in order to remove it from the environment. Eric Niiler, Wired, "Could Carbon Dioxide Be Turned Into Jet Fuel?," 22 Dec. 2020 In fact, the frequency is so low that the sound can be difficult to capture well with a microphone. Jonathan C. Slaght, Scientific American, "A Duet of Fish Owls," 10 Dec. 2020 The idea is to capture the spirit of the city’s festive traditions with nine days of virtual experiences. cleveland, "Cleveland Holiday Fun Guide: 32 virtual and in-person ways to celebrate the season," 24 Nov. 2020 That intimacy is really difficult to capture in print. Greg Fitzgerald, The Christian Science Monitor, "Rethinking perspectives on American criminal justice," 16 Nov. 2020 Roberts’ goal was to capture the modernizing spirit that made Diana such an intriguing figure in the staid royal family — someone photographed wearing baseball caps as well as tiaras. Los Angeles Times, "How ‘The Crown’ captured Princess Diana’s evolution from shy teen to style icon," 15 Nov. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about capture

Time Traveler for capture

Time Traveler

The first known use of capture was circa 1542

See more words from the same year

Statistics for capture

Last Updated

19 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Capture.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce capture (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on capture

What made you want to look up capture? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!