1 of 2


: 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
: confinement in a jail
sentenced to jail


2 of 2


jailed; jailing; jails

transitive verb

: to confine in or as if in a jail

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Two jail record clerks have been fired since it was discovered Mason was allowed the leave the detention center, Martin said. Cara Tabachnick, CBS News, 21 Sep. 2023 The Pennsylvania jail from where murderer Danelo Cavalcante recently escaped will spend as much as $3.5 million to enclose outdoor exercise yards in hopes of preventing future breakouts, officials said Wednesday. David K. Li, NBC News, 21 Sep. 2023 Ahead of the sentencing, Phillips and other Hollywood friends, including Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, wrote letters to the judge in support of Masterson with the intention of reducing the actor’s jail time. Vulture, 20 Sep. 2023 Independent jail monitor says staffing crisis at root of Danelo Cavalcante's escape Maxwell said the board's concerns a year ago prompted them to hire third-party consultants to evaluate conditions at the prison. Jared Kofsky, ABC News, 20 Sep. 2023 In 2021, a Thai woman was handed a 43-year jail sentence, believed to be the toughest ever imposed, after pleading guilty to sharing audio clips on YouTube and Facebook that were deemed critical of the royal family. Helen Regan, CNN, 19 Sep. 2023 Lucas was already in the Montgomery County jail when he was served a murder warrant Tuesday. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, 19 Sep. 2023 And rather than attack his victim in the shower block of a juvenile jail, Polanski does the deed in comfort at Jack Nicholson’s house in the Hollywood Hills. Matt Thompson, Spin, 10 Sep. 2023 Bryan was eventually released on a $1,000 bond after being booked in Craig County jail, per the outlet. Brenton Blanchet, Peoplemag, 9 Sep. 2023
So for every political prisoner that Egypt releases, three more are jailed. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 22 Sep. 2023 In declining a prosecutor’s request for Taylor to be jailed, Miller warned her to steer clear of illicit substances. Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 Bloomberg Former Congressman jailed Ex-Indiana Congressman Stephen Buyer, a Republican, was sentenced to 22 months in prison on Tuesday after being convicted of insider trading. Peter Vanham, Fortune, 20 Sep. 2023 He is currently jailed ahead of a trial scheduled to begin Oct. 3. Reuters, NBC News, 19 Sep. 2023 Although they had not been jailed like their family members, they had previously been banned from leaving Iran. Kirsty Hatcher, Peoplemag, 18 Sep. 2023 Brooks, who is Black, said a white woman she was jailed with had prior convictions and the same charges as Brooks, but received a lower bond. Claire Savage and Corey Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 12 Sep. 2023 Michael White, a Navy veteran who was jailed in Iran for several years on spying charges, right, shakes hands with Michael's former fellow prisoner and Iranian political activist Mahdi Vatankhah at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Thursday, June 1, 2023. Eric Tucker, Chicago Tribune, 10 Sep. 2023 Masterson has been jailed since May and maintains his innocence. Harold Maass, The Week, 8 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'jail.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1604, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near jail

Cite this Entry

“Jail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jail. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: prison
jail verb

Legal Definition


: 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
jail transitive verb

More from Merriam-Webster on jail

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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