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

Other Words from enthrall

enthrallment \ in-​ˈthrȯl-​mənt How to pronounce enthrall (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." An early figurative use of enthrall appeared in the following advice from the 16th century, 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 Written by a marine biologist and illustrated by an artist in coastal Spain, this wondrous compendium will enthrall beachcombers and landlubbers alike. New York Times, 22 June 2022 Bravado would see their son and scoop him up and whisk him toward the backstage area on the ship to enthrall the crowd even more. Cassell Ferere, Forbes, 14 Sep. 2021 The portrayal is absorbing, committed and morbidly fascinating—one of the more memorable aspects of the Holmes persona was her unnaturally deep voice, which seemed intended to enthrall and probably did. John Anderson, WSJ, 28 Feb. 2022 Your zone of genius areas are your interests that engage and enthrall you. Julia Wuench, Forbes, 5 Jan. 2022 The first games to really enthrall me were Starcraft and Guild Wars. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 30 Nov. 2021 No matter your genre preference, summertime music festivals are sure to enthrall. Washington Post, 15 July 2021 While The Office ended more than eight years ago, the NBC series has continued to enthrall fans around the world. Gabrielle Chung, PEOPLE.com, 16 July 2021 Weather is perpetrated by a somewhat predictable but ultimately uncontrollable force, and no Hollywood disaster flick can fully replicate the effects, those forces majeures that can enthrall, shock, or even humble. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 10 July 2021 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

29 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Enthrall.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enthrall. Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for enthrall


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on enthrall

Nglish: Translation of enthrall for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of enthrall for Arabic Speakers


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