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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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

In Louisiana, researchers have found that 48% of ex-offenders end up re-incarcerated within five years. Casey Parks, USA Today, "'You don't know what you did for me': Released from prison by Obama, now on the dean's list," 8 July 2019 Then, in May, the Atlanta City Council voted to close the city’s jail which incarcerated an average of 70 people each day, mostly on traffic charges. NBC News, "Black women mayors: A rising force in major American cities," 8 July 2019 At age 31, Miguel Hernández succumbed to tuberculosis while incarcerated by Franco. Rigoberto González, latimes.com, "Spanish literature animates the ghosts of its embattled history," 5 July 2019 Mental-health care in Arizona prisons has been a focus of prison-reform advocates for as long as Schwickrath's son has been incarcerated. Grace Oldham, azcentral, "A mother's frightening story highlights concerns over mental-health care in Arizona prisons," 26 June 2019 The overall drop could mean that formerly incarcerated Californians began committing fewer crimes in years after reform. Ben Christopher, The Mercury News, "Any spike in repeat crimes after California sped prisoner release? New research says no," 25 June 2019 According to a study conducted by Worth Rise, prison phone companies like Securus and Keefe charge incarcerated individuals up to $20 for a 15-minute call. Kynala Phillips, Essence, "Elizabeth Warren Shares Her Plans for Prison Reform," 21 June 2019 Many end up homeless, incarcerated, or as frequent patients in already-crowded emergency rooms. John Hirschauer, National Review, "Mississippi’s Mental-Illness Policies Are Working. DOJ Is Challenging Them.," 17 June 2019 Her two children are absolutely innocent victims in this case, and their lives will suffer tremendously if Ms. Gyambibi is incarcerated. Jon Lender, courant.com, "Doctor sentenced to 3 months in compounded medicine case that defrauded Connecticut taxpayers for $877,882," 12 June 2019

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

12 Jul 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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