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

The city has decided to use federal guidelines going forward, and those guidelines don’t include people the city has traditionally counted: in jails, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: Raids or not, Bay Area families awash in uncertainty," 12 July 2019 During his 13-month sentence in a Palm Beach, Fla., jail, Epstein was allowed to work out of his office six days a week. David Nakamura, BostonGlobe.com, "Alex Acosta resigns as labor secretary amid scrutiny over Jeffrey Epstein case," 12 July 2019 After the security breach was discovered two days later, Chicago police and the Cook County sheriff’s office, which operates the jail, each opened investigations into the incident. Peter Nickeas, chicagotribune.com, "How did an inmate get a loaded gun into Cook County Jail?," 10 July 2019 Acosta has defended his handling of a 2008 plea deal that gave Epstein only 13 months in a county jail, which he was allowed to leave six days a week for work. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Embattled Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta speaks to reporters — live updates," 10 July 2019 During his 13-month sentence in a Palm Beach, Florida, jail, Epstein was allowed to work out of his office six days a week. Anchorage Daily News, "Acosta defends Epstein plea deal, says Epstein could have had no jail time," 10 July 2019 At dusk and into the night, rats scurry in the alley between the church and the jail, darting under doorways and into sewer drains. Bloomberg News, al.com, "Jeffrey Epstein now sharing a jail with ‘El Chapo’," 10 July 2019 And on June 2017, Carter was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to two and a half years in jail, which was reduced to 15 months. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "The Texts Between Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy III," 8 July 2019 After release from prison or jail, gun offenders typically go back to the same neighborhoods or face the same enemies as before, Yamane said. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Gun offenders more likely to commit crime again, says study," 7 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In Lake County, California, Elizabeth Gaunt, a 56-year-old former social worker, was jailed after acting erratically but never charged. Sharon Cohen, The Denver Post, "AP Investigation: Many U.S. jails fail to stop inmate suicides," 18 June 2019 More recently, in addition to disqualifying lawmakers, the government has banned a fringe pro-independence political party, jailed pro-democracy protest leaders, and expelled a veteran Financial Times journalist. Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Backs Down, but the Protests Continue," 17 June 2019 Tens of thousands of people have been investigated for insulting the president, and the owners and editorial leadership of top opposition newspapers have been jailed, detained or faced trial. Bloomberg, The Mercury News, "Turkey frees journalist who faced prison for Erdogan insult," 15 June 2019 Gregory Martez Childress, 27, is jailed on a murder charge, according to Tuscumbia police. Ashley Remkus | Aremkus@al.com, al.com, "Suspect jailed in Shoals shooting death," 10 June 2019 Although 10 women received their licenses this month, 17 women’s rights activists who campaigned for greater gender equality have been jailed on suspicion of undermining security and stability. Madeleine Ngo, Vox, "A Saudi fashion show faced backlash after replacing models with drones. There are deeper issues.," 8 June 2018 Ronald Hecker was jailed on burglary, theft and forgery warrants and charged with second-degree theft and criminal mischief. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "3 Anchorage residents accused of mail fraud involving over 500 victims," 27 Apr. 2018 Roycameion Willie, 19, was jailed Tuesday on charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery, according to a report from Fort Worth police. Stephen English, star-telegram, "Teen faces charges in armed kidnapping, robbery of Fort Worth couple | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 25 Apr. 2018 Ethiopian hotel housekeeper who was jailed after Mo Farah claimed items were stolen from him, wants an apology. oregonlive.com, "Cravon Gillespie, Jessica Hull and Chaquinn Cook honored with UO awards: Oregon track & field rundown," 15 June 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

16 Jul 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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