jail

noun
\ ˈjāl How to pronounce jail (audio) \

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

For this crime, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail — and ended up serving eight years before being released. Shirin Ghaffary, Recode, "Everything you need to know about Google’s controversial China plans in advance of today’s congressional hearing," 11 Dec. 2018 The misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail. Fox News, "Congressman allegedly used position to get partner's son out of heroin bust," 2 Oct. 2018 If convicted Jones could be sentenced to up to one year in jail and fined up to $2,000. Matt Campbell, kansascity, "Food worker at Kauffman Stadium charged with sexual abuse of teenage colleague," 11 July 2018 Bullets start ripping into jail, video shows Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 0:00 / 0:54 This bear got trapped in a Subaru Outback in Lake Tahoe. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "Man caught breaking into cars went for cop’s gun — and it didn’t end well, Mich. police say," 28 June 2018 Earlier in the day, Massachusetts’ highest court denied an emergency motion filed by her lawyers to keep her out of jail. Alanna Durkin Richer, The Seattle Times, "Woman begins jail sentence for texting suicide conviction," 11 Feb. 2019 Me, along with two other women—those other women are in jail today. Glamour, "Glamour Woman of the Year Manal al-Sharif: 'Democracy Is Not a Privilege'," 12 Nov. 2018 Jean-Claude Mas, the original founder of the French company, was sentenced to four years in jail. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Over 5,000 British Women Are Being Accused of Lying About Getting Defunct Breast Implants," 1 Oct. 2018 In her big screen debut—an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel—the 26-year-old Cincinnati native plays Tish, a woman trying to get her husband out of jail before the birth of their child. The Editors, Town & Country, "Meet KiKi Layne, the Actress Who's About to Be Everywhere," 1 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Unable to locate Flores, prosecutors were forced to delay until she was jailed again in December. Brian Chasnoff, San Antonio Express-News, "Witness jailed for more than five months," 31 May 2018 Schlitterbahn co-owner Jeff Henry is expected to be returned Tuesday night from Texas where he has been jailed on murder charges filed in Wyandotte County. Tony Rizzo And Max Londberg, kansascity, "Schlitterbahn co-owner on way to Kansas to face murder charge in water slide death | The Kansas City Star," 3 Apr. 2018 Quang was third activist to be jailed in a week on similar charges. Fox News, "Vietnam jails activist for anti-government posts on Facebook," 25 Sep. 2018 Houston migrant advocates, immigration attorneys and elected officials on Wednesday expressed skepticism after a reversal of Trump administration’s border policy, noting that children would still be jailed. Olivia P. Tallet, Houston Chronicle, "Houston advocates say Trump “reversal” on immigrant children doesn’t reverse families’ detention and criminalization," 20 June 2018 Many parents now face criminal as well as civil prosecution, and because children can't be jailed with their parents, they are detained separately. Eli Stokols, latimes.com, "Republicans in Congress look for way out of border crisis as Trump publicly stands his ground," 19 June 2018 Activists and bloggers who challenge the legitimacy of the party and government can be jailed -- there are currently 169 activists in prison, according to U.S. Representative Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican who has held hearings on Vietnam. John Boudreau, Bloomberg.com, "In Vietnam, Discontent Lurks Under Surface of Economic Success," 19 June 2018 Because children can’t be jailed alongside adults, minors must be separated and kept in juvenile facilities while their moms or dads are incarcerated. Haley Sweetland Edwards, Time, "Parents Are Facing a Nightmare at the U.S. Border," 14 June 2018 He was recaptured after about nine hours and was jailed in Bell County on a more than $1.75 million bond. Jake Bleiberg, The Seattle Times, "Prison transport firm closing after escape, cites insurance," 11 Feb. 2019

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

9 Apr 2019

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 How to pronounce jail (audio) \

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 How to pronounce jail (audio) \

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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