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

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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 Six people were arrested on federal charges in October in the alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer, which was foiled. NBC News, "Weapons of mass destruction charge added for 3 accused in Michigan governor kidnap plot," 29 Apr. 2021 The new charges come six months after undercover informants and federal agents helped foil an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home and leave her stranded in a boat in Lake Michigan. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Whitmer kidnap plot suspects face new charges: Weapons of mass destruction," 28 Apr. 2021 In Ciudad Juárez, across from El Paso, women especially have become prey of criminals who kidnap and rape. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, "Late at night, the U.S. is expelling migrants back into dangerous Mexico border cities," 22 Apr. 2021 DeVillers also talked about the groupthat allegedly planned to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, "100 days after U.S. Capitol breach, Ohio is sixth on list of protest indictments," 16 Apr. 2021 They were charged with 23 counts of conspiracy, including plotting to kidnap Henry A. Kissinger, then the national security adviser. New York Times, "Ramsey Clark, Attorney General and Rebel With a Cause, Dies at 93," 10 Apr. 2021 Peifer, 43, had been found guilty and sentenced to 30 years for hatching the plot to kidnap brewing heir William Hamm Jr. for a $100,000 ransom — keeping $10,000 for himself. Curt Brown, Star Tribune, "St. Paul gangster's kidnapping trial came to dramatic end," 3 Apr. 2021 After a shady investor steals their new invention, Nick, Dale and Kurt conspire to kidnap the man’s adult son and ransom him to pay off their debts. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: James Dean in ‘Giant’ on TCM and more," 2 Apr. 2021 Branham told police he had been paid to help kidnap and torture the two victims, according to his arrest citation. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "The wrong guy: Charges will be dropped against 1 man in brutal torture-murder case," 26 Mar. 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

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Kidnap.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 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
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

Comments on kidnap

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