pris·​on | \ ˈpri-zᵊn How to pronounce prison (audio) \

Definition of prison

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a state of confinement or captivity
2 : a place of confinement especially for lawbreakers specifically : an institution (such as one under state jurisdiction) for confinement of persons convicted of serious crimes — compare jail


prisoned; prisoning; prisons

Definition of prison (Entry 2 of 2)

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Synonyms for prison

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of prison in a Sentence

Noun The state plans to build two more prisons. He was in prison at the time. If caught, they're all going to prison. She was sent to prison for robbery. He was released from prison. He's scheduled to get out of prison next month. Her marriage became a prison to her.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun No employees at the prison nor any police officers were injured during the escape or arrest, authorities said. NBC News, "Peter Madsen, Danish inventor who murdered journalist Kim Wall, recaptured after prison break," 20 Oct. 2020 Police reportedly surrounded Madsen, 49, close to the Herstedvester prison in Albertslund, Denmark shortly after 10 a.m. local time on Tuesday. Washington Post, "Danish man who killed journalist Kim Wall aboard submarine caught after prison escape," 20 Oct. 2020 The prison in southwest Montana houses about 1,500 inmates and employs about 700 staff members. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Arches National Park, ski resorts, Amtrak: News from around our 50 states," 20 Oct. 2020 The outbreak at the nursing home came after the state Department of Health and Environment last week reported more than 100 cases at the state's prison in Norton over the two weeks ending Wednesday. CBS News, "All 62 residents at Kansas nursing home have COVID, 10 have died," 20 Oct. 2020 Beshear also reported a new outbreak of COVID-19 at a state prison, the Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Sandy Hook, where 17 inmates and two staff tested positive for the coronavirus. Deborah Yetter, The Courier-Journal, "Beshear reports 1,319 new cases of COVID-19, 4 deaths as high numbers continue in Kentucky," 16 Oct. 2020 Two of them, both at the Faribault prison, have died. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, "COVID-19 outbreak infects 90 inmates in Stillwater prison," 12 Oct. 2020 The state health inspection was prompted by CoreCivic officials contacting ADOSH to report that an employee had been hospitalized after possibly being exposed to COVID-19 at the Florence prison, the report said. Daniel Gonzalez, The Arizona Republic, "4 CoreCivic employees have died of COVID-19 in Arizona: 3 at a Florence prison and 1 at Eloy immigration detention center," 10 Oct. 2020 Chandler, now 75, remains in a federal prison in Talladega. Carol Robinson |, al, "Kamille ‘Cupcake’ McKinney: Birmingham remembers murdered 3-year-old a year after abduction," 10 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Nationwide, there is concern of devastating repercussions should prison populations suffer an outbreak. Carol Robinson |, al, "Alabama defense lawyers: Release prison inmates most at risk of dying from coronavirus," 27 Mar. 2020

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


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prison


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin prehension-, prehensio act of seizing, from prehendere to seize — more at get

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Time Traveler for prison

Time Traveler

The first known use of prison was in the 12th century

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Statistics for prison

Last Updated

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prison.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for prison


How to pronounce prison (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prison

: a building where people are kept as punishment for a crime or while they are waiting to go to court
: a place or situation from which you cannot escape


pris·​on | \ ˈpri-zᵊn How to pronounce prison (audio) \

Kids Definition of prison

: a place where criminals are locked up



Legal Definition of prison

: an institution usually under state control for confinement of persons serving sentences for serious crimes — compare house of correction, house of detention, jail, lockup, penitentiary

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