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

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Other Words from incarcerate

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for incarcerate

Synonyms

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

Antonyms

discharge, free, liberate, release

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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

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 Norris was incarcerated until July 24, 2017, then was released on parole through July 22, 2024. Cynthia Sewell, idahostatesman, "He said he was on a path to 'positive change.' Then came prison time, & the shootout," 5 July 2018 According to a 2013 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study, more than 50 percent of Milwaukee County’s black men in their 30s and 40s have been incarcerated. Malika Andrews, chicagotribune.com, "A city divided: Bucks see new arena as downtown melting pot," 28 June 2018 That would push down America’s overall incarcerated population from about 2.1 million to about 1.9 million. German Lopez, Vox, "The Senate just passed criminal justice reform," 19 Dec. 2018 In one situation, two siblings — an infant and a toddler — spent a night in a hotel when both their parents were incarcerated. Scott Greenstone, The Seattle Times, "With shortage of foster parents, Washington has almost tenfold increase in hotel stays for foster kids," 27 Nov. 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.

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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

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Statistics for incarcerate

Last Updated

22 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incarcerate

The first known use of incarcerate was in 1575

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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

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