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 The Africans had been kidnapped by English pirates from a Spanish slave ship headed for Mexico. USA Today, "Pam’s family enslaved black people. Wanda believes her ancestor was one of them. They met, and are confronting a painful history," 17 Dec. 2019 Then, her pet rat, Queen, fights off the nutcracker and later, Princess Clara and Queen head for the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy to free the slaves who were kidnapped from around the world. Sharina Taveras Lopez,, "South Carroll: Kiwanis Club hosting Pancake Breakfast; ‘Nutcracker Princess’ coming to Eldersburg library," 12 Nov. 2019 Planters increasingly purchased and enslaved Africans who had been kidnapped and brought to America by Dutch and English slavers; unlike indentured servants, these laborers had no contracts and their bondage was passed on to their children. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "How two centuries of slave revolts shaped American history," 8 Nov. 2019 On August 28, 1955, Till was kidnapped and murdered when Carolyn Bryant claimed the then 14-year-old Chicago native whistled at her in a Money, Mississippi grocery store. Paula Rogo, Essence, "Will Smith and Jay Z To Co-Produce 'Women Of The Movement' Civil Rights Series For ABC," 7 Aug. 2019 While at school, Steven never revealed to anyone that he had been kidnapped. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "The True Story Behind Cary Stayner's Murders and His Brother Steven's Legacy," 25 Jan. 2019 Smart’s daughter Elizabeth, then 14, became a household name in 2002 when she was kidnapped from their family home. Tim Fitzsimons, NBC News, "Ed Smart, dad of kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, says there's no gay 'cure'," 10 Dec. 2019 Hearst, the granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, became famous when she was kidnapped in 1974 and later resurfaced as a member of the terrorist group that abducted her. Susan Dunne,, "Kathleen Turner, Patty Hearst, Mink Stole to join John Waters at Connecticut’s adult Club Getaway next summer," 19 Nov. 2019 King and Weeks were teaching English at the American University of Afghanistan, a private nonprofit institution in Kabul, when they were kidnapped close to its campus., "KABUL — A planned prisoner swap between the Afghan government and the Taliban intended to restart peace talks between the insurgent group and the United States has been delayed, according to Afghan and Taliban officials.," 18 Nov. 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

10 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Kidnap.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for kidnap


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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