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

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Other Words from kidnap

kidnappee or kidnapee \ ˌkid-​ˌna-​ˈpē How to pronounce kidnapee (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 An Italian aid worker who was kidnapped in Kenya in late 2018 has been freed. Washington Post, "World Digest: May 9, 2020," 9 May 2020 Between January 1976 and March 1977, two boys and two girls ages 10 to 12 were kidnapped in the quiet suburbs of Oakland County, on the west side of Detroit. Megan Abbott, New York Times, "‘The Streets Look So Empty’: How a Child Killer Haunted My First Novel," 1 May 2020 Attorneys who opposed the policy argued that the administration failed in its duty to protect asylum-seekers by forcing individuals who had been raped or kidnapped in Mexico back to the country. Madison Dibble, Washington Examiner, "Federal appeals court blocks Trump policy ordering asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico," 28 Feb. 2020 In 1998, three white men in Jasper — south of Gohmert’s district — kidnapped James Byrd Jr., 49. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Texas’ Rep. Louie Gohmert one of just four votes against bill to make lynching a federal hate crime," 26 Feb. 2020 The Boko Haram insurgency has displaced tens of thousands of residents and 112 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by the group's militants in 2014 are still missing. Bukola Adebayo, CNN, "30 dead, including pregnant woman and baby, in Nigeria militant attack," 10 Feb. 2020 An American citizen has been kidnapped in Afghanistan, two U.S. officials have confirmed to NBC News. NBC News, "American man kidnapped in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say," 6 Feb. 2020 The three, who were all from wealthy San Francisco Bay Area families, kidnapped 26 children and their bus driver near Chowchilla in 1976. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Parole denied again for inmate in 1976 school bus hijacking," 8 Oct. 2019 Adding to the country’s woes is the havoc wreaked by extremist Islamist rebel group Boko Haram, responsible for kidnapping about 270 schoolgirls in the Chibok region in 2014. Abigail Haworth, Marie Claire, "The Lost Daughters of Salerno," 1 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for kidnap

Time Traveler

The first known use of kidnap was in 1682

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Statistics for kidnap

Last Updated

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Kidnap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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How to pronounce kidnap (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on kidnap

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for kidnap

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kidnap

Spanish Central: Translation of kidnap

Nglish: Translation of kidnap for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of kidnap for Arabic Speakers

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