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

Definition of imprison 

transitive verb

: to put in or as if in prison : confine

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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

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Examples of imprison in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

Between 1942 and 1945, about 117,000 Japanese Americans, most from the West Coast, were relocated and imprisoned in internment camps as the United States fought the empire of Japan in the Pacific. Tyrone Beason / Columnist, The Seattle Times, "Kazuo Yamane’s WWII story shows the lengths to which some must go to prove their loyalty to America," 11 Nov. 2018 Two of those awards were for the same short story, Bloodchild, in which human refugees are imprisoned on an alien planet by insect-like creatures that protect them while using them as hosts to breed their young. Billy Perrigo, Time, "Octavia E. Butler, Who Brought Diversity to the World of Science Fiction, Honored With Google Doodle," 22 June 2018 Joseph Blocker and his men, on orders from President Harrison, escort a long-imprisoned and now dying Cheyenne war chief, played by Wes Studi, to his ancestral homeland. Michael Phillips, idahostatesman, "Christian Bale goes west, with a vengeance," 25 Jan. 2018 The authorities, unsurprisingly, did not rally behind al-Sharif the way women did; she was detained twice and imprisoned for nine days. Michele Aboud, Glamour, "Saudi Arabia Was the Last Place in the World to Allow Women to Drive. Manal al-Sharif Helped Change That.," 5 Nov. 2018 Bulger, imprisoned for life for his role in 11 murders, died in prison Tuesday. Lindsey Bever, The Seattle Times, "‘My life was wasted’: Whitey Bulger once penned a letter to three teens about his regrets," 31 Oct. 2018 The country has been under a state of emergency since then, with more than 50,000 people imprisoned for alleged ties to terrorist groups. Umar Farooq,, "Turkey's President Erdogan embraces new powers as electoral council declares him election winner," 26 June 2018 The Israeli physician already had an extraordinary history: former legislator, agriculture expert, government minister and ex-convict imprisoned for having tried to smuggle 32,000 Ecstasy tablets disguised as M&M’s into Israel. Isabel Kershner, New York Times, "Israel Charges a Former Minister With Spying for Iran," 18 June 2018 The country's dire human rights situation and the 100,000 people believed to be imprisoned in gulag-like prisons were not expected to feature prominently in Tuesday's discussions. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "Singapore summit: Anxious world awaits outcome of high-stakes talks," 12 June 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.

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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

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Statistics for imprison

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for imprison

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

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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

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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).


living or existing for a long time

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