hos·tage | \ ˈhä-stij \

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

The writer-director's latest, Skyscraper, stars his Central Intelligence collaborator Dwayne Johnson as former FBI agent and war veteran Will Sawyer, who lost part of his leg after a hostage situation gone wrong. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why 'Skyscraper' Director Will Never Make a Sequel to His Cult Classic 'Dodgeball'," 13 July 2018 Holden starts as a textbook Groff character: neat, bookish, pretty, an F.B.I. choirboy who becomes a teacher and researcher after a hostage situation goes wrong. K. Austin Collins, HWD, "Before Jonathan Groff Could Nail Mindhunter, He Had to Stop Smiling," 14 June 2018 The room themes include a mystery mansion, a hostage situation, a casino, a museum heist and more. Valerie Bonk, Howard County Times, "10 ways to beat the heat in Howard County this summer," 6 June 2018 Early this morning, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office received a call reporting a hostage situation at Hogg’s address, the local ABC affiliate reports. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Prank Caller Sends SWAT Team to Home of Parkland Survivor David Hogg," 5 June 2018 Authorities went to the home, finding no sign of a hostage situation. German Lopez, Vox, "David Hogg’s family was swatted. That’s extremely dangerous.," 5 June 2018 Nude body found The tortuous path of Commonwealth vs. Graham began in June 1980, with Jimmy Carter in the White House and the Iranian hostage crisis nearing its 280th day. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "Did Norman Graham kill his girlfriend 38 years ago? Or was it the psychopath next door?," 26 Apr. 2018 In the past, the court has granted such cases only in matters of grave national importance, such as the controversy over President Richard Nixon's White House tapes or solving the Iranian hostage crisis. The Washington Post,, "Supreme Court declines to enter controversy over DACA program, rejects Trump administration's request to review lower court rulings," 26 Feb. 2018 Graham spoke with passion about topics of the day such as the flight of Cuban refugees and the hostage crisis in Iran. Robert King, Indianapolis Star, "Billy Graham's 3 Indianapolis crusades marked the times and his ministry," 21 Feb. 2018

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, from Anglo-French, from hoste

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Dictionary Entries near hostage





hostage crisis



Phrases Related to hostage

a hostage to fortune

hostage crisis

Statistics for hostage

Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for hostage

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

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More Definitions for hostage



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


hos·tage | \ ˈhä-stij \

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

Comments on hostage

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