in·​mate | \ ˈin-ˌmāt How to pronounce inmate (audio) \

Definition of inmate

: any of a group occupying a single place of residence especially : a person confined (as in a prison or hospital)

Examples of inmate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

There’s one in particular that has caught her interest, from an inmate who isn’t up for parole until 2021. Jonathan Van Meter, Vogue, "The Awakening of Kim Kardashian West," 10 Apr. 2019 These are the words of an inmate serving a life sentence for murder in a South Carolina state prison, who had a big need for cellphone service. Sherri A. Lydon, WSJ, "Let States Jam Prison Cellphones," 3 Apr. 2019 Beginning next month, any woman visiting an inmate at one of the state's prisons will be barred from wearing a tampon or a menstrual cup. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Virginia Prisons Ban Female Visitors From Using Tampons," 25 Sep. 2018 The average cost to incarcerate an inmate in a California prison is about $80,000 a year. Abbie Vansickle, New York Times, "If He Didn’t Kill Anyone, Why Is It Murder?," 27 June 2018 Federal inmates and detainees, federal employees, Peace Corps volunteers, District of Columbia residents with low incomes, and military service members are all subject to Hyde-like restrictions. Christine Grimaldi, Vogue, "Senators Introduce Legislation to Finally Repeal the Hyde Amendment and End Wide-Ranging Federal Abortion-Funding Ban," 12 Mar. 2019 Prisoner rights advocates say that the technology might have some benefits—at times, prisoners are bullied into giving up their phone minutes to another inmate, and voice recognition could detect the fraud. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Prisons Are Building Giant Biometric Databases of Prisoners' Voices," 1 Feb. 2019 The mayor has moved forward on a plan to close Rikers Island—which houses most of the city’s inmates—and replace its jails with four detention centers in neighborhoods in Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. Katie Honan, WSJ, "More Correction Officers Are Quitting Their Jobs," 12 Sep. 2018 Since then dozens of inmates and their families have reached out to the Chronicle, the Office of the Inspector General and Texas Inmates Families Association with similar allegations. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "4 Texas prison officials indicted after alleged evidence-planting incident at Brazoria lock-up," 11 July 2018

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

1609, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inmate

Statistics for inmate

Last Updated

6 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inmate

The first known use of inmate was in 1609

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for inmate



English Language Learners Definition of inmate

: a person who is kept in a prison or mental hospital


in·​mate | \ ˈin-ˌmāt How to pronounce inmate (audio) \

Kids Definition of inmate

: a person confined in an institution (as a hospital or prison)


in·​mate | \ ˈin-ˌmāt How to pronounce inmate (audio) \

Medical Definition of inmate

: one of a group occupying a single place of residence especially : a person confined (as in a psychiatric hospital) especially for a long time

Keep scrolling for more


in·​mate | \ ˈin-ˌmāt How to pronounce inmate (audio) \

Legal Definition of inmate

: a person confined in an institution (as a prison or hospital)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on inmate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inmate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inmate

Spanish Central: Translation of inmate

Nglish: Translation of inmate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inmate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on inmate

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


something valued as if it were money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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