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

His body is later found lifeless inside the jail cell. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Every "Riverdale" Character That's Been Killed Off," 10 May 2019 All inmates being held in New York City jails will no longer have to pay a fee to make a phone call, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday. Katie Honan, WSJ, "New York City Jail Inmates Can Now Make Free Phone Calls," 1 May 2019 Black women are the fastest growing population in prisons and jails. Alicia Garza, Marie Claire, "Alicia Garza on How Women Are Battling Mass Incarceration," 30 Apr. 2019 In 1992, Italian courts sentenced a 45-year-old man to jail for the rape of an 18-year-old girl. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Everything You Need to Know about Denim Day," 24 Apr. 2019 The court may find me in contempt, and order me to jail. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Chelsea Manning Taken Into Custody for Refusing to Testify in Sealed Court Case," 8 Mar. 2019 Four of Mr Rauner’s seven predecessors went to jail for corruption. The Economist, "Bruce Rauner discovers bipartisanship," 5 July 2018 Gordon's father-in-law ended up in jail for six months. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'MasterChef' Star Gordon Ramsay and His Wife Tana Have Endured a Lot Together," 19 Apr. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The younger one, Liu Hui, has been repeatedly jailed on fraud charges in recent years. The Economist, "China frees the widow of a Nobel peace-prize winner," 11 July 2018 The leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or C.N.R.P., have been jailed or driven into exile, and lower-ranking members were harassed into joining Mr. Hun Sen’s party or getting out of politics. Julia Wallace, New York Times, "‘Fireflies’ and ‘Ghosts’ in Cambodia Prop Up Facade of Real Election," 11 July 2018 Malichia Legree, who has a history of assault arrests, has been jailed without bond following the incident on the Fourth of July. Keri Blakinger, Houston Chronicle, "Houston man accused of shooting self while fighting deputy in Fiesta Mart bathroom," 6 July 2018 Relations between Ottawa and Riyadh have been strained after Canada’s foreign ministry sent a tweet last August calling on the Saudi government to immediately release human-rights activists who had been jailed. Kim Mackrael, WSJ, "Saudi Teen in Canada Protected by Guards Amid Threats," 15 Jan. 2019 Patrick’’ Lumumba, was briefly jailed as police investigated potential murder suspects. Giovanni Legorano, WSJ, "Amanda Knox Wins Damages Over Meredith Kercher Murder Case," 24 Jan. 2019 Almost 300 workers of Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the country’s ruling party, were jailed temporarily on flimsy public-order offences. The Economist, "Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan, and jail," 14 July 2018 Unlike most white-collar crime defendants, who typically are free on bond until sentencing, Reynolds was ordered immediately jailed after a jury convicted him on 14 bribery counts in June. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Feds: No proof behind Macomb official's cancer story; keep him jailed," 12 July 2018 The journalists, who were almost immediately arrested by police, have been jailed since this incident. Renae Reints, Fortune, "Reuters Journalists Charged with Obtaining State Secrets by Myanmar Court," 9 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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Learn More about jail

Dictionary Entries near jail

Jahvist

Jahwe

jai alai

jail

jailbait

jailbird

jailbreak

Statistics for jail

Last Updated

21 May 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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