kid·​nap | \ ˈkid-ˌnap How to pronounce kidnap (audio) \
kidnapped also kidnaped\ ˈkid-​ˌnapt How to pronounce kidnap (audio) \; kidnapping also kidnaping

Definition of kidnap

transitive verb

: to seize and detain or carry away by unlawful force or fraud and often with a demand for ransom

Other Words from kidnap

kidnappee or kidnapee \ ˌkid-​ˌna-​ˈpē How to pronounce kidnap (audio) \ noun
kidnapper or less commonly kidnaper noun

Synonyms for kidnap


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Examples of kidnap in a Sentence

the child of the wealthy industrialist was kidnapped and held for ransom
Recent Examples on the Web Khan, 50, was convicted in a plot to kidnap and behead a British soldier in 2008 after a six-month sting operation by British police. Peter Aitken, Fox News, 28 Oct. 2021 Burlington resident Sean Fiore, 37, pleaded guilty Thursday to murder for hire, conspiracy to kidnap and murder a person overseas, conspiracy to produce child pornography, and possession of child pornography. Ashley Boucher,, 14 Oct. 2021 Seeking to kidnap the dog, Muriel discovers that the animal is really an artificial creation embedded with Doctor Y’s miracle algorithms. Washington Post, 1 Oct. 2021 The characterization appears to draw directly from the blood libel slander, the medieval and modern conspiracy theory that Jews annually kidnap and murder Christian children. David M. Perry, CNN, 28 Sep. 2021 Trump lost the election to Bernie Sanders, and another calling for the United States to invade Iran and kidnap some of its attractive women to serve American men. Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 Sep. 2021 The Haqqani network, which officials have said operates like an organized crime family, has also been blamed for the kidnapping of several Americans as part of a kidnap-for-ransom business. NBC News, 7 Sep. 2021 The debut feature of Floor van der Meulen is a comedy about a young woman who decides to kidnap her suicidal father. Ann-marie Corvin, Variety, 3 Sep. 2021 Prosecutors preparing for the first prison sentence in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer are loudly signaling to five other defendants that a key insider has shared extraordinary details about the operation. CBS News, 25 Aug. 2021

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

1682, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for kidnap

probably back-formation from kidnapper, from kid + obsolete napper thief

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Statistics for kidnap

Last Updated

4 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Kidnap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for kidnap



English Language Learners Definition of kidnap

: to take away (someone) by force usually in order to keep the person as a prisoner and demand money for returning the person


kid·​nap | \ ˈkid-ˌnap How to pronounce kidnap (audio) \
kidnapped\ -​ˌnapt \; kidnapping

Kids Definition of kidnap

: to carry away a person by force or by fraud and against his or her will

Other Words from kidnap

kidnapper noun


transitive verb
kid·​nap | \ ˈkid-ˌnap How to pronounce kidnap (audio) \
kidnapped or kidnaped\ -​ˌnapt How to pronounce kidnap (audio) \; kidnapping or kidnaping\ -​ˌna-​piŋ \

Legal Definition of kidnap

: to seize and confine or carry away by force or fraud and often with a demand for ransom

Other Words from kidnap

kidnapper or kidnaper \ -​ˌna-​pər \ noun

History and Etymology for kidnap

probably back-formation from kidnapper, from kid child + obsolete napper thief

More from Merriam-Webster on kidnap

Nglish: Translation of kidnap for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of kidnap for Arabic Speakers


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