hostage

noun
hos·​tage | \ ˈhä-stij How to pronounce hostage (audio) \

Definition of hostage

1a : a person held by one party in a conflict as a pledge pending the fulfillment of an agreement
b : a person taken by force to secure the taker's demands
2 : one that is involuntarily controlled by an outside influence

Examples of hostage in a Sentence

The terrorists demanded a plane and a pilot in exchange for the hostages. The hostage crisis is now entering its second week. The passengers were taken hostage. They were held hostage for several days.
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Recent Examples on the Web HBONow, Disney+, and Apple TV+ satisfy the exclusive content snobs, or those held hostage by animated IP. Lauren Goode, Wired, "Flipboard Jumps Aboard the Subscription Video Train," 11 Feb. 2020 The 23 children held hostage were all aged around 10, with the exception of one baby, Anil Mishra, Superintendent of Police for Farrukhabad, told CNN. Esha Mitra And Amy Woodyatt, CNN, "Indian man killed in police shoot-out after holding 23 children hostage at fake birthday party," 31 Jan. 2020 Mississippi Fulton: For 32 hours, 10-year-old Mikylah Blackburn was held hostage over a year ago by the man who authorities said killed her father. USA TODAY, "Atari hotel, Wienermobile warning, goat mayor’s K-9 rival: News from around our 50 states," 29 Jan. 2020 The obvious place to start was to finally, once and for all, escape the shopping habit that had held me hostage for years. Alejandra Borunda, Bon Appétit, "I Escaped My Problems By Buying Clothes Until It Became My Biggest Problem of All," 14 Jan. 2020 Nor is Richmond, which is about an hour north of Detroit and which has roughly 1,400 students and a $15 million budget, the first school system to be held hostage. Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News, "Ransomware attack shuts down some Michigan schools," 2 Jan. 2020 The top American diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was overrun by Iranian protesters in 1979 and one of 52 Americans held hostage for more than a year. Bernard Mcghee, Twin Cities, "Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019," 29 Dec. 2019 The top American diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was overrun by Iranian protesters in 1979 and one of 52 Americans held hostage for more than a year. Bernard Mcghee, The Denver Post, "Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2019," 16 Dec. 2019 Trump has earned praise from other hostage families. Joel Simon, The New Yorker, "How Trump Has Reversed Decades of American Hostage Policy," 7 Feb. 2020

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for hostage

Middle English hostage, ostage, borrowed from Anglo-French, "lodging, residence, custody of a person held as security against fulfillment of an agreement, the person so held," from hoste "guest, host" + -age -age — more at host entry 3

Note: The peculiar sense shift apparently arose from the Old French use of hostage in verbal phrases such as prendre en hostage "to take in residence, lodge" in reference to the lodging of a person held as surety; the import of hostage was then transferred to the status of such a person, and finally to the actual person.

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Time Traveler for hostage

Time Traveler

The first known use of hostage was in the 13th century

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Statistics for hostage

Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hostage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hostage. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for hostage

hostage

noun
How to pronounce hostage (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of hostage

: a person who is captured by someone who demands that certain things be done before the captured person is freed

hostage

noun
hos·​tage | \ ˈhä-stij How to pronounce hostage (audio) \

Kids Definition of hostage

: a person who is captured by someone who demands that certain things be done before the captured person is freed

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More from Merriam-Webster on hostage

Spanish Central: Translation of hostage

Nglish: Translation of hostage for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hostage for Arabic Speakers

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