incarcerate

verb
in·​car·​cer·​ate | \ in-ˈkär-sə-ˌrāt How to pronounce incarcerate (audio) \
incarcerated; incarcerating

Definition of incarcerate

transitive verb

1 : to put in prison
2 : to subject to confinement

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for incarcerate

Synonyms

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

Antonyms

discharge, free, liberate, release

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

A criminal sentenced to incarceration may wish his or her debt to society could be canceled, but such a wistful felon might be surprised to learn that incarcerate and cancel are related. Incarcerate comes from incarcerare, a Latin verb meaning "to imprison." That Latin root comes from carcer, Latin for prison. Etymologists think that cancel probably got its start when the spelling of carcer was modified to cancer, which means "lattice" in Latin-an early meaning of cancel in English was "to mark (a passage) for deletion with lines crossed like a lattice." Aside from its literal meaning, incarcerate can also have a figurative application meaning "to subject to confinement," as in "people who are incarcerated in their obsessions."

Examples of incarcerate in a Sentence

the state incarcerated over 1900 people last year

Recent Examples on the Web

The Southern Poverty Law Center said the prospect of close-to-free labor for the government provides an incentive for the state to keep more people incarcerated. Julia O'donoghue, NOLA.com, "Expanded use of prison labor approved by Louisiana Legislature," 17 May 2018 Tampons and pads are medical supplies, and women deserve to receive adequate care while they're incarcerated, plain and simple. Glamour, "Politician Votes Against Access to Pads and Tampons in Prison Because It’s Not ‘a Country Club’," 20 Mar. 2019 Inmates who avoid a disciplinary record can currently get credits of up to 47 days per year incarcerated. German Lopez, Vox, "The Senate just passed criminal justice reform," 19 Dec. 2018 Straley's life took a detour at age 13 when a Pinellas County judge ordered him incarcerated at what was then called the Florida State Reform School in Marianna. Carol Marbin Miller, miamiherald, "A victim of vile abuse at Florida reform school, he spent his life fighting for justice," 10 July 2018 He is now engaged to a woman who also has been incarcerated, and who has a child. John Timpane, Philly.com, "We (Too) Are Philly: This summer's hottest literary festival continues with an installment Thursday," 10 July 2018 Items on display include three pink-triangle armbands worn by homosexual prisoners incarcerated at the Buchenwald concentration camp, near Weimar, Germany. Lisa J. Huriash, southflorida.com, "Museum documents persecution of gays in Nazi Germany," 10 July 2018 Instead, the new order commands that children be incarcerated right along with their parents and instructs federal agencies to work with the Department of Homeland Security to make available or build facilities for detaining all these families. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Ends Family Separations By Ordering Family Detentions," 20 June 2018 People of color are targeted, criminalized, incarcerated, and killed at rates vastly disproportionate to those of white people who commit the same offenses. Karen Dolan, Fortune, "These 'Blue Lives Matter' Bills Send the Wrong Message on Race and Violence," 31 May 2018

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

1575, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for incarcerate

Latin incarceratus, past participle of incarcerare, from in- + carcer prison

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about incarcerate

Listen to Our Podcast about incarcerate

Statistics for incarcerate

Last Updated

3 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incarcerate

The first known use of incarcerate was in 1575

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for incarcerate

incarcerate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of incarcerate

formal : to put (someone) in prison

incarcerate

transitive verb
in·​car·​cer·​ate | \ in-ˈkär-sə-ˌrāt How to pronounce incarcerate (audio) \
incarcerated; incarcerating

Legal Definition of incarcerate

Other Words from incarcerate

incarceration \ in-​ˌkär-​sə-​ˈrā-​shən How to pronounce incarceration (audio) \ noun

History and Etymology for incarcerate

Latin incarceratus, past participle of incarcerare, from in- in + carcer prison

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on incarcerate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a strong desire or propensity

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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