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 Unfortunately for the away side, Radja Nainggolan, Kevin Strootman and De Rossi were not willing to take any prisoners., "Roma 3-0 Barcelona: The Night Roma Rose From Their Ruins," 1 Nov. 2019 The White House has insisted the prisoners are now Turkey’s responsibility, but the chaos has given many the chance to flee, as hundreds of detainees have reportedly done. Madeleine Carlisle, Time, "Trump Keeps Talking About Syria's Oil Fields. Here's What's Going On With Them," 26 Oct. 2019 Inside were 22 prisoners who had been captured in battles with the Islamic State. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, "Our Reporter Walked Into a Prison Full of ISIS Detainees," 22 Oct. 2019 The Brotherhood kills Hank instead and takes Jesse prisoner, torturing him and forcing him to cook meth for them. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Redemption not guaranteed: El Camino is a fitting coda to Jesse Pinkman’s story," 19 Oct. 2019 The departing Americans did manage to exfiltrate some of the most notorious IS prisoners being held in north-eastern Syria. The Economist, "Another fine mess Donald Trump triggers a Turkish invasion and trashes the national interest," 17 Oct. 2019 Rabah said his group killed nine Kurdish fighters, without specifying whether the two prisoners were among them., "Syrian Arab fighters backed by Turkey kill 2 Kurdish prisoners," 12 Oct. 2019 Killing unarmed prisoners was, of course, a violation of international law, but the Japanese military in that period seemed to take the practice for granted. Haruki Murakami, The New Yorker, "Abandoning a Cat," 30 Sep. 2019 These prisoners must also be readily available for meetings with families, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and investigative agents. Gary E Mead, Orange County Register, "Ending private prisons in California will harm prisoners and detained immigrants," 23 Sep. 2019

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

11 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Prisoner.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 22 November 2019.

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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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