im·pris·on | \im-ˈpri-zᵊn \
imprisoned; imprisoning; imprisons

Definition of imprison 

transitive verb

: to put in or as if in prison : confine

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from imprison

imprisonment \im-ˈpri-zᵊn-mənt \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for imprison


commit, confine, immure, incarcerate, intern, jail, jug, lock (up)


discharge, free, liberate, release

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of imprison in a Sentence

He was imprisoned for murder. He has threatened to imprison his political opponents.

Recent Examples on the Web

Despite being imprisoned for the last three months, Lula continues to lead opinion polls in October’s presidential election, with 30% of the vote in a June survey conducted by the polling company Datafolha. Jill Langlois,, "Brazil's judges duel over whether to release former President Lula from prison," 9 July 2018 The 19-minute film echoes Takei's real-life experience of being imprisoned in Japanese-American internment camps in Arkansas and California. 2. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "Indy Shorts: 10 standout actors and documentary subjects you’ll see onscreen at new fest," 3 July 2018 An American man was freed from captivity in Venezuela on Saturday after being imprisoned by the South American country for nearly two years, officials said. Phil Mccausland /, NBC News, "Venezuela releases imprisoned American after two years in captivity," 26 May 2018 Henry’s privy council wanted to imprison and/or execute Charles Brandon for treason, but in the end the king realized that would probably make family reunions super awkward, so Brandon just had to pay a stiff fine. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Anne Boleyn," 25 May 2018 In addition to being imprisoned, Mr. Sun was deprived of political rights for life and all his personal property was confiscated. The Associated Press, New York Times, "A Former Top Chinese Official Gets Life Term for Corruption," 8 May 2018 David Turpin, the father accused of imprisoning and abusing his children in a California house of horrors, was charged Friday with eight counts of perjury on Friday, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office announced on Twitter. Greg Hanlon,, "House of Horrors Dad Faces Perjury Charges For Allegedly Lying About Kids' Schooling," 4 May 2018 Meek Mill has been involved in a lengthy court battle after being imprisoned for violation of probation late last year. Shanté Honeycutt, Billboard, "Meek Mill Tells Lester Holt He Always Thought His Probation Would Bring Him Back to Prison," 12 Apr. 2018 Our conception of how many Americans have been wrongly imprisoned has changed drastically since the first DNA exoneration in the United States, in 1989. Barbara Bradley Hagerty, The Atlantic, "Can You Prove Your Innocence Without DNA?," 6 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'imprison.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of imprison

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for imprison

Middle English, from Anglo-French emprisoner, from en- + prison prison

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about imprison

Phrases Related to imprison

life imprisonment

Statistics for imprison

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for imprison

The first known use of imprison was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for imprison



English Language Learners Definition of imprison

: to put (someone) in prison


im·pris·on | \im-ˈpri-zᵊn \
imprisoned; imprisoning

Kids Definition of imprison

: to put in prison


transitive verb

Legal Definition of imprison 

: to confine in prison especially as punishment for a crime — compare false imprisonment

Other Words from imprison

imprisonment noun

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on imprison

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for imprison

Spanish Central: Translation of imprison

Nglish: Translation of imprison for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of imprison for Arabic Speakers

Comments on imprison

What made you want to look up imprison? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!