pris·​on·​er | \ ˈpriz-nər How to pronounce prisoner (audio) , ˈpri-zᵊn-ər \

Definition of prisoner

1 : a person deprived of liberty and kept under involuntary restraint, confinement, or custody especially : one on trial or in prison
2 : someone restrained as if in prison a prisoner of her own conscience

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Synonyms & Antonyms for prisoner



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Examples of prisoner in a Sentence

He was captured by rebel forces and kept as their prisoner for several months before they set him free. The families were held prisoner for four days.
Recent Examples on the Web That quickly puts an end to the family time, with a guard coming to take the prisoner away. Derek Lawrence,, "The Undoing recap: I'm thinking your husband is a bit of a d---," 9 Nov. 2020 In a peasant hut in Central China, where he was being held prisoner, Mr. Topping, as a young correspondent, listened all night to the thundering artillery. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Seymour Topping, Former Times Journalist and Eyewitness to History, Dies at 98," 8 Nov. 2020 One more prisoner at Jacksonville Correctional Center also tested positive Thursday, increasing the number of people infected as part of an outbreak at the facility to 376 prisoners and 15 staff members. Chicago Tribune Staff,, "Coronavirus in Illinois updates: 12,438 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 76 more deaths reported as seven-day statewide positivity rate spikes to 10.3%," 7 Nov. 2020 The book reflects on his time as a political prisoner, serving as an Israeli politician and his efforts to unite the Jewish people. Sergio Carmona,, "Natan Sharansky among authors presenting at Miami Book Fair," 6 Nov. 2020 Lawmakers and prisoner advocacy groups said Murphy's plan allowed the corrections commissioner, Marcus Hicks, too much discretion and that more people should have gotten out. Stacey Barchenger, USA TODAY, "'It's over, baby': NJ releases over 2,000 inmates from prisons, halfway houses to reduce COVID spread," 5 Nov. 2020 Landrum’s failure both as interim district attorney from 2007 to 2008 and as a judge in 2014 to free state prisoner Robert Jones, who was eventually exonerated of a rape charge and released. Matt Sledge,, "Keva Landrum and Jason Williams headed to Orleans Parish district attorney runoff," 3 Nov. 2020 Working for the Detroit Police Department, Moore performed beat patrols as well as prisoner processing. Stephen Kearse, The Atlantic, "The YouTuber Who Treats the Inner City Like a Safari," 31 Oct. 2020 The agency must also send paper forms out to every state and federal prisoner in the country and post notices in prisons about the payments. Lydia Depillis, ProPublica, "Millions Still Haven’t Gotten Stimulus Checks, Including Many Who Need Them Most," 30 Oct. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for prisoner

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The first known use of prisoner was in the 14th century

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Statistics for prisoner

Last Updated

18 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prisoner.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for prisoner


How to pronounce prisoner (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of prisoner

: a person who is kept in a prison
: a person who has been captured and is being kept somewhere


pris·​on·​er | \ ˈpri-zᵊn-ər How to pronounce prisoner (audio) , ˈpriz-nər \

Kids Definition of prisoner

: a person who has been captured or locked up



Legal Definition of prisoner

: a person deprived of liberty and kept under involuntary restraint, confinement, or custody especially : one under arrest, awaiting trial, on trial, or serving a prison sentence

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