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

transitive verb

: to hold spellbound : charm
: to hold in or reduce to slavery
enthrallment noun

Did you know?

The history of enthrall appeals far less than the word as we use it today might suggest. In Middle English, enthrallen meant “to deprive of privileges; to put in bondage.” Thrall then, as now, referred to bondage or slavery. An early figurative use of enthrall appeared in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape.” But we rarely use even this sense of mental or moral control anymore. More often, the word simply suggests a state of being generally captivated or delighted by some particular thing. Enthrall is commonly found in its past participle form enthralled, which can mean “spellbound,” as in “we listened, enthralled, to the elder's oral history.”

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 The notion, resting on legally shaky ground, may enthrall Trump’s critics. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2023 These premium hemp sweets are made with care in the USA from naturally cultivated hemp and are sure to enthrall cannabis enthusiasts. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 8 Sep. 2023 But at heart, this is a heist saga designed to enthrall in its ingenuity and ambition, one of the more presentable cases of cowboy spycraft from an us-versus-them time. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep. 2023 But if the Spatial audio experience didn't enthrall you on previous occasions, Apple's test aims to standardize the effect for everyone through better sound localization. Joe Hindy, PCMAG, 18 Sep. 2023 This coming-of-age story will resonate with several teens, and the raw humor and engaging comics will enthrall them. L. Daniela Alvarez, Better Homes & Gardens, 24 Aug. 2023 Maybe, but more importantly, this is our time to celebrate a song so unabashedly rhythmic, danceable, and silly that it seems designed to enthrall the LGBTQ+ community. Emma Specter, Vogue, 26 June 2023 Given those interests, the music of the ’80s continues to enthrall him. Jem Aswad, Variety, 16 May 2023 This spine-chilling thriller enthralls viewers with its unexpected twists and palpable sense of dread. Travis Bean, Forbes, 6 May 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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


Dictionary Entries Near enthrall

Cite this Entry

“Enthrall.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enthrall. Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants or enthral
enthralled; enthralling
: to hold by or as if by a spell : charm
enthrallment noun

More from Merriam-Webster on enthrall

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