prison

noun
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

prison

verb
prisoned; prisoning; prisons

Definition of prison (Entry 2 of 2)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for prison

Synonyms: Noun

bastille, big house [slang], bridewell, brig, calaboose, can, clink [slang], cooler, coop, guardroom, hock, hold, hoosegow, jail, jailhouse, joint [slang], jug, lockup, nick [British slang], pen, penitentiary, pokey [slang], quod [British slang], slam, slammer, stir [slang], stockade, tolbooth [Scottish]

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Advertising Bridgeman and Jackson were released from prison in November 2014. Mark Gillispie, The Seattle Times, "Appeals court says exonerated men’s claims should be heard," 29 Mar. 2019 Mehdi Nemmouche, 33, who was convicted Thursday of killing four people in May 2014, received the maximum possible sentence, but could be released from prison under surveillance in as soon as 15 years. ... Daniel Michaels, WSJ, "Brussels Jewish Museum Terrorist Sentenced to Life in Jail," 12 Mar. 2019 Miranda served four months in prison, due to an unrelated charge or probation violation of aggravated assault, before reuniting with her children. Jenn M. Jackson, Teen Vogue, "Access to Education for Black Children Proves Difficult for Their Parents, Creating a Disadvantage," 13 Mar. 2019 Loughlin and Huffman could spent 5 years in prison. Vogue, "The Craziest Details From the College Cheating Scandal That Got Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin Charged," 12 Mar. 2019 Manning, who’s now 31, spent a substantial amount of time in solitary confinement before her trial, in addition to years in prison afterwards. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Chelsea Manning Has Been Imprisoned for Resisting a Grand Jury Investigation. Here’s Why She Should Be Freed," 11 Mar. 2019 Series of escapes Bundy first escaped from prison during his transfer to Aspen. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "Ted Bundy: Looking Back at the Killing Spree That Landed Him on Death Row," 25 Jan. 2019 By escaping from prison twice and dodging an assassination attempt, Mr. Guzmán, who pleaded not guilty to all 17 counts in his federal indictment, including conspiracy to murder, has become a folk hero to some. Sam Walker, WSJ, "Help! My Boss Is El Chapo," 12 Jan. 2019 Brown will be released from prison on August 7 and will stay on parole for 10 years. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Cyntoia Brown, Sentenced to Life in Prison as a Juvenile Victim of Sex Trafficking, Will Finally Go Free," 7 Jan. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of prison

Noun

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for prison

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prison

Statistics for prison

Last Updated

13 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prison

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prison

prison

noun

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

prison

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

Kids Definition of prison

: a place where criminals are locked up

prison

noun
pris·​on

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on prison

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prison

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prison

Spanish Central: Translation of prison

Nglish: Translation of prison for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prison for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prison

What made you want to look up prison? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

an enemy or opponent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Thing: Animal Edition

  • alt 5a023732e6f75
  • Name that animal:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!