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

— see also take-no-prisoners, take no prisoners

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 Towards the end of July, Russia and the U.S. begin negotiating about a prisoner swap. Brooklyn White, Essence, 5 Aug. 2022 Blinken’s comment came as he was asked about remarks Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made regarding a potential prisoner swap at the foreign ministers meeting at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. Lawrence Richard, Fox News, 5 Aug. 2022 Earlier, Russian foreign ministry officials had said that negotiations on a prisoner swap could not take place until Griner’s trial was complete. Adela Suliman, Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2022 Lavrov and Blinken spoke last week about the potential for a prisoner swap, according to people familiar with the conversation. Ivan Nechepurenko,, 5 Aug. 2022 Tensions mount between Russia and U.S. over a possible prisoner swap. ABC News, 31 July 2022 Experts say that her best hope may be for the Biden administration to suggest a prisoner swap with a Russian citizen being held by the United States. New York Times, 29 July 2022 Inspired by real events, the historical drama centers around Francisco Boix, a prisoner at the Nazi German Mauthausen concentration camp. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, 22 July 2022 Daveed Diggs stars as Andre Layton, a prisoner at the tail end of the train who gets caught up in a revolutionary struggle against the imposed social hierarchy aboard Snowpiercer. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, 31 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near prisoner

prison camp


prisoner's base

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Statistics for prisoner

Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Prisoner.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for prisoner


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

More from Merriam-Webster on prisoner

Nglish: Translation of prisoner for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prisoner for Arabic Speakers


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