en·​thrall | \ in-ˈthrȯl How to pronounce enthrall (audio) , en-\
variants: or enthral
enthralled; enthralling

Definition of enthrall

transitive verb

1 : to hold spellbound : charm
2 : to hold in or reduce to slavery

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Other Words from enthrall

enthrallment \ in-​ˈthrȯl-​mənt How to pronounce enthrallment (audio) , en-​ \ noun

Did You Know?

In Middle English, enthrallen meant "to hold in thrall." "Thrall" then, as now, meant "bondage" or "slavery"; it comes from an Old Norse word, "thraell," which is probably related to an Old High German word for servant. In the 16th century, the first known figurative use of "enthrall" appeared in the following advice, translated from a Latin text by Thomas Newton: "A man should not . . . enthrall his credit and honour to Harlots." But we rarely use even this sense of mental or moral enslavement anymore. Today the word is often used in its participle form, "enthralled," which sometimes means "temporarily spellbound" ("we listened, enthralled, to the old woman's oral history"), but more often suggests a state of being generally captivated, delighted, or taken by some particular thing.

Examples of enthrall in a Sentence

enthralled by the flickering fire in the hearth, we lost all track of time for years these master magicians have been enthralling audiences with their astounding illusions

Recent Examples on the Web

Brimming with history and adventure, Southeast Asia will dazzle your mind and enthrall the imagination. National Geographic, "Southeast Asia Family Journey: Vietnam to Cambodia," 12 June 2019 The show's revival comes at a time when STEM and computer science is at the forefront of discovery and, like its earlier episodes, is sure to enthrall a new generation of little learners — some things, after all, never change. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "Buckle Up, "The Magic School Bus" Is Coming Back," 3 Jan. 2017 Yet another way to think of his election is that the party’s climate has grown increasingly hospitable to the demagogues who come along regularly to enthrall the right. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Oliver North and the Creation of Donald Trump," 7 May 2018 Among the film composers presently active in Hollywood studios, there aren’t many whose music can enthrall you without any movie around them. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "John Williams explores galaxies far and near in enjoyable CSO program of his film music," 27 Apr. 2018 In the decades since then, Ronald Reagan (always a movie believer) would enthrall himself with dreams of star wars fireworks as part of our defense strategy. David Thomson, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Space Odyssey,’ by Michael Benson," 4 Apr. 2018 This is the proto-modernity that would eventually enthrall Manet and the other Spain-smitten Frenchmen who forged Modern painting in the 1860s. Jason Farago, New York Times, "‘Jacob and His Twelve Sons’: Zurbarán’s Biblical All-Stars," 14 Mar. 2018 Only time will tell if The Room will continue to enthrall in 2053. Donald Liebenson, HWD, "Valley of the Dolls," 13 Dec. 2017 Preachers are prone to engaging histrionics — call-and-responses, hoots and hollers and dramatic gestures — to enthrall their congregatoins. Aaron Randle, kansascity, "How these churches brought millennials back to worship | The Kansas City Star," 10 Dec. 2017

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for enthrall

Middle English

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Statistics for enthrall

Last Updated

27 Jun 2019

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The first known use of enthrall was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for enthrall



English Language Learners Definition of enthrall

: to hold the attention of (someone) by being very exciting, interesting, or beautiful


en·​thrall | \ in-ˈthrȯl How to pronounce enthrall (audio) \
enthralled; enthralling

Kids Definition of enthrall

: to hold the attention of completely The show enthralls audiences.

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More from Merriam-Webster on enthrall

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with enthrall

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for enthrall

Spanish Central: Translation of enthrall

Nglish: Translation of enthrall for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of enthrall for Arabic Speakers

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