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 capturing (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 capturable (audio) , -​shrə-​bəl \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for capture

Synonyms: Noun

captive, internee, prisoner

Synonyms: Verb

acquire, attain, bag, bring in, carry, come by, draw, earn, gain, garner, get, knock down, land, make, obtain, procure, pull down, realize, reap, secure, win

Antonyms: Noun


Antonyms: Verb

forfeit, lose

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The site has played a similar role when the White House recently deleted the entirety of its newsletter archives, and a number of organizations (not just news, but entities like environmental organizations or the ACLU) reached out for captures. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, "The Internet’s keepers? “Some call us hoarders—I like to say we’re archivists”," 7 Oct. 2018 Omnidirectional microphones catch the sound of bats that show up but elude capture. Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post, "A mysterious disease is killing millions of bats. These scientists are trying to save them.," 12 July 2018 Luis Alberto Solano-Pimentel, who was arrested in Rhode Island in March after eluding capture since 1997, pleaded guilty to one count of failure to appear, federal prosecutors said. Danny Mcdonald,, "Man who was on the lam for 21 years pleads guilty to failing to appear in court," 16 May 2018 There was no immediate response from officials in Belgium to Ecuador's capture and extradition request. Gonzalo Solano, Fox News, "Ex-Ecuador president ordered jailed after missing court date," 3 July 2018 After the capture, the python was brought to the Great Plains SPCA, Lacy said. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "Postal worker gets big surprise: Snake on the mailbox," 18 Aug. 2018 His release lowered the immediate tensions caused by several days of back-and-forth airstrikes and his capture. ... Bill Spindle, WSJ, "Defusing a Calibrated Clash, Pakistan Releases Indian Pilot," 1 Mar. 2019 Desperate to avoid capture, Mr. Park sprinted across a Chinese expressway, dodging speeding trucks. Eun-young Jeong, WSJ, "A Perilous Journey to Escape Kim Jong Un’s North Korea," 20 Dec. 2018 As the war raged on throughout the South, enslaved Black women fought to secure their own freedom, often fleeing plantations under threat of capture. Jenn M. Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Black Women's Labor in America Has Always Been Exploited," 7 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Sword and Shield will debut new creatures to capture, including sheep Pokémon Wooloo, whose fluffy fur which is treasured by weavers who use it to craft specialty goods. Michelle Lou, CNN, "Here's what we know about Pokemon Sword and Shield so far," 5 June 2019 Ruiz upset Joshua last Saturday in New York to claim three belts and become the first fighter of Mexican descent to capture a major heavyweight world title. Jenna West,, "Andy Ruiz vs. Anthony Joshua Rematch Scheduled This Winter," 4 June 2019 But there is growing evidence that a handful of gatekeepers have come to capture control over key arteries of online commerce, content, and communications. Anchorage Daily News, "Facebook, Google and other tech giants to face antitrust investigation by House lawmakers," 4 June 2019 The tunnel is expected to capture 300 million gallons of sewage annually and prevent it from flowing into the Cuyahoga River. Benjamin Peters,, "Shoreway Drivers BEWARE: Cleveland’s West 45th street exit closing for 5 months for sewer project," 4 June 2019 Vuong knows how to capture the essence of survival in his work. Kat Chow, The Atlantic, "Going Home With Ocean Vuong," 4 June 2019 The Lady Mavericks, powered by the trifecta of Brianna Turner, Rangie Bessard and Jordan Hosey, won their final 18 games to capture the state title. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Girls’ basketball: Manvel’s Bryan Harris named Barbers Hill HC/assistant AD," 4 June 2019 If War of Will wins, the colt will become the 18th to capture the Preakness and Belmont without winning the Kentucky Derby. Mark Inabinett |,, "Belmont Stakes 2019: Meet the contenders and watch them run," 3 June 2019 That group went on to capture the program’s third national title. Bob Lundeberg For The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman feels ‘rush of emotions’ after Baltimore Orioles make him No. 1 pick in MLB draft," 3 June 2019

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

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

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

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).


showing great care, attention, and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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