im·​pris·​on | \ im-ˈpri-zᵊn How to pronounce imprison (audio) \
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 How to pronounce imprisonment (audio) \ 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

Some information comes to us when Banks writes a letter to the California Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to freeing the unjustly imprisoned. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Aldis Hodge shines in ‘Brian Banks’ as a man fighting to clear his name," 8 Aug. 2019 First Officer Paul Grebenc, 35, was sentenced to 10 months in prison and his colleague Carlos Roberto Licona, 45, was imprisoned for 15 months. Madeline Roache, Time, "United Airlines Pilots Under Fire After Allegedly Failing Alcohol Breath Test Before International Flight," 6 Aug. 2019 There's no one regulators can fine or imprison for non-compliance, so regulators have focused their enforcement efforts on intermediaries at the edges of the network. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Facebook is backpedaling from its ambitious vision for Libra," 18 July 2019 Trump has touted the overhaul as a rare bipartisan effort to address concerns that too many Americans were imprisoned for nonviolent crimes as a result of the drug war. Michael Balsamo, Anchorage Daily News, "Barr: Justice Department is ‘all in’ on criminal justice overhaul," 13 July 2019 The 115,000 imprisoned South Africans lived in terrible conditions. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The “concentration camp” language debate is the wrong fight," 13 July 2019 There may now be as many as 1,200 such camps in Xinjiang, imprisoning up to a million people, including Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and especially Uighurs, who make up around 46 percent of Xinjiang’s population. James Millward, The New York Review of Books, "‘Reeducating’ Xinjiang’s Muslims," 7 Feb. 2019 Jailed British Iranian woman returned to cell: The husband of a British Iranian aid worker imprisoned in Iran said she has been transferred from a hospital mental-health facility back to prison. Washington Post, "World Digest: July 22, 2019," 22 July 2019 While imprisoned in Morrow County in 2018, ICE officials tried to force Sow to take a commercial flight to Washington, D.C., that would eventually connect him to a flight back to Mauritania. Mark Curnutte,, "'I do everything all Americans do.' Home but for how long? ICE releases Mauritanian man after 11 months," 16 July 2019

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

12 Aug 2019

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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 How to pronounce imprison (audio) \
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).


a period when something is suspended

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