jail

noun
\ˈjāl \

Definition of jail 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a place of confinement for persons held in lawful custody specifically : such a place under the jurisdiction of a local government (such as a county) for the confinement of persons awaiting trial or those convicted of minor crimes — compare prison

2 : confinement in a jail sentenced to jail

jail

verb
jailed; jailing; jails

Definition of jail (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to confine in or as if in a jail

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Synonyms & Antonyms for jail

Synonyms: Noun

bastille, big house [slang], bridewell, brig, calaboose, can, clink [slang], cooler, coop, guardroom, hock, hold, hoosegow, jailhouse, joint [slang], jug, lockup, nick [British slang], pen, penitentiary, pokey [slang], prison, quod [British slang], slam, slammer, stir [slang], stockade, tolbooth [Scottish]

Synonyms: Verb

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

Antonyms: Verb

discharge, free, liberate, release

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Examples of jail in a Sentence

Noun

He was locked up in the county jail. He was arrested and sent to jail. He went to jail for his crimes. He just got out of jail a few weeks ago. He was kept in jail overnight.

Verb

threatened to jail the punks if they so much as jaywalked
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Honea joined the sheriff’s department in 1993 and worked his way up from jail guard to detective in three years. Paul Elias, The Seattle Times, "Back-to-back crises boost California sheriff’s profile," 28 Nov. 2018 On Thursday, a Journal reporter who visited the jail was told by an official there that Messrs. Ghosn and Kelly were prohibited from receiving visitors. Sean Mclain, WSJ, "Nissan Probe Alleges Ghosn Used Company Money to Buy Homes, Enrich His Sister," 22 Nov. 2018 Earlier in the month, New York City moved to make all calls from jails free, becoming the first major city to do so. Colin Lecher, The Verge, "Texas and New York City are slashing inmate phone call rates," 1 Sep. 2018 In a separate case brought by 30 Million Friends, a French court handed a 6-month jail term to another person found with a lion cub, Hutin said. John Leicester, The Seattle Times, "Causing an uproar: Lion-car combo the latest in selfie bling," 14 Nov. 2018 One proposal for LaGuardia has drawn some recent interest: Close down the decrepit jails on Rikers Island, adjacent to LaGuardia, and use the island for a new runway. Scott Mccartney, WSJ, "New York’s Three Airports: Bottom of the Heap," 14 Nov. 2018 New York City has gone further, providing free tampons in schools, jails, and homeless shelters. Anna North, Vox, "Nevada just got rid of its “tampon tax”," 7 Nov. 2018 The culprits could be punished by a fine up to $2,500, a year in jail, or both. Fox News, "Protester filmed screaming 'I hate Ted Cruz,' tearing up signs in Houston neighborhood," 18 Oct. 2018 Punishments can include forfeiture of pay, extra duty, reduction in grade, confinement in military jail, bread and water or decreased food rations. Eileen Reslen, Good Housekeeping, "10 Significant Moments You Missed From 'This Is Us' Last Night," 17 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

People fought and died for equal rights and voting rights; suffragists endured hunger strikes and were beaten and jailed. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Midterm Elections Are Almost Here—What You Need to Know Now," 5 Nov. 2018 Records show Dunham has been jailed in Brevard County about 10 times since 2011. Jeff Weiner, OrlandoSentinel.com, "AR-15 owner listed gun for sale online — then was robbed by felon 'buyer,' cops say," 10 July 2018 But what about children whose parents have been jailed or deported by immigration officials? Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "The Uncertain Fate of Migrant Children Sent to Foster Care," 20 June 2018 Per an order by Superior Court Judge Robert Dahlquist, Winslow has been jailed without bail. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Could Kellen Winslow Jr.'s Attorneys Use Football-Induced Brain Injury as Defense for Alleged Crimes?," 16 June 2018 The two had been jailed and held without trial after Venezuelan law enforcement accused the couple of stockpiling weapons in their apartment in Caracas, reports NBC News. Stephanie Petit, PEOPLE.com, "American Held in Venezuela Reveals Prison Conditions: Cockroaches Were 'Crawling All Over Me'," 5 June 2018 Winslow II remains jailed without bail, and faces life in prison if convicted of all charges. Teri Figueroa, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Accusers fail to identify Winslow II in court," 11 July 2018 Schooley remains jailed in Wyandotte County after being brought to Kansas from Texas Friday. San Antonio Express-News, "Designer pleads not guilty," 10 Apr. 2018 Pellegrino, then 57, objected to the invasiveness of the search, but conditions deteriorated and she was later jailed for about 18 hours, the papers show. NBC News, "TSA screeners have immunity from flier abuse claims, appeals court rules," 11 July 2018

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

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1604, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for jail

Noun

Middle English jaiole, from Anglo-French gaiole, jaiole, from Late Latin caveola, diminutive of Latin cavea cage — more at cage

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Dictionary Entries near jail

Jahvist

Jahwe

jai alai

jail

jailbait

jailbird

jailbreak

Statistics for jail

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for jail

The first known use of jail was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for jail

jail

noun

English Language Learners Definition of jail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a place where people are kept when they have been arrested and are being punished for a crime

jail

verb

English Language Learners Definition of jail (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put (a person) in jail

jail

noun
\ˈjāl \

Kids Definition of jail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: prison

jail

verb
jailed; jailing

Kids Definition of jail (Entry 2 of 2)

: to shut up in or as if in a prison

jail

noun
\ˈjāl \

Legal Definition of jail 

: a place of confinement for persons held in lawful custody specifically : such a place under the jurisdiction of a local government (as a county) for the confinement of persons awaiting trial or those convicted of minor crimes — compare house of correction, house of detention, lockup, penitentiary, prison

Other Words from jail

jail transitive verb

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More from Merriam-Webster on jail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with jail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for jail

Spanish Central: Translation of jail

Nglish: Translation of jail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of jail for Arabic Speakers

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