en·​snare in-ˈsner How to pronounce ensnare (audio)
ensnared; ensnaring; ensnares

transitive verb

: to take in or as if in a snare
Choose the Right Synonym for ensnare

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

Example Sentences

The animals got ensnared in the net. The police successfully ensnared the burglar.
Recent Examples on the Web At the same time, NSO had been ensnared by years of scandal over revelations of the abuses of Pegasus by numerous governments. Ronen Bergman, New York Times, 2 Apr. 2023 The Car Wash probe sparked dozens of cases in Brazil, the U.S. and elsewhere, ensnaring major commodities firms and leading to financial penalties against companies in many other industries. Dylan Tokar, WSJ, 17 Feb. 2023 Two Anniston Army Depot police officers and a third man have been federally charged with allegedly conspiring to steal military equipment from the facility as part of an ongoing investigation that ensnared six others so far, prosecutors said Thursday. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, 26 Jan. 2023 Once they were given cellphones, Potes and Castrillon saw the video had been published in Semana, a right-leaning news outlet in Colombia, which used it to deny claims that Potes had been ensnared by Bukele’s crackdown on gangs. Diana Durán, Washington Post, 15 May 2023 Leung is among a growing number of foreign nationals to have been ensnared in China’s widening crackdown on espionage under leader Xi Jinping. Nectar Gan, CNN, 15 May 2023 Surprising Fact Toledo, who served as Peru’s president from 2001 to 2006, is the fourth Peruvian ex-president to be ensnared in the Odebrecht scandal. Katherine Hamilton, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2023 Germany Christian Wulff, a former president of Germany, resigned from his position 20 months into office after he was ensnared in a corruption scandal stemming from his time as Lower Saxony’s governor. Politifact Staff Writer, Dallas News, 6 Apr. 2023 The system has ensnared more than 5,000 target drones during developmental flight tests, Gruen says. Jason Sherman, Scientific American, 3 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1576, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ensnare was in 1576

Dictionary Entries Near ensnare

Cite this Entry

“Ensnare.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ensnare. Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


en·​snare in-ˈsna(ə)r How to pronounce ensnare (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on ensnare

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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