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 Instead the process has been held up by a row over prisoner releases—and by the impasse in Kabul. The Economist, "Titles all round Afghanistan’s two rival presidents reach a deal," 21 May 2020 Zelenskiy has sought to make progress on ending the war in regions on the Russian border, but has so far only managed to arrange prisoner swaps between the former allies. Volodymyr Verbyany,, "Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Walks Back One-Term-President Pledge," 20 May 2020 While millions of Americans shelter in their homes, America’s prisoners are at work. Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, "Covid-19's Toll on Prison Labor Doesn't Just Hurt Inmates," 19 May 2020 The prisoners, who died over the course of two days this week at San Bernardino County hospitals, are among a growing number of inmates who have contracted COVID-19. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, "3 more inmates die at Chino prison as coronavirus infections continue to spread," 8 May 2020 The prisoner release is a critical first step to intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at bringing an end to decades of war in Afghanistan. Fox News, "ISIS claims responsibility for rocket attack on US base in Afghanistan," 9 Apr. 2020 The talks among Afghan and Taliban negotiators aimed to finalize the terms of a prisoner swap, which is a necessary step for a formal peace process to begin under the terms of the U.S. deal with the Taliban. ... Jessica Donati, WSJ, "Afghan Peace Process Hits Roadblock as Taliban Break Off Talks," 7 Apr. 2020 There was no immediate response from the Taliban to the delayed prisoner release. Washington Post, "Afghan government postpones prisoner release, endangers deal," 14 Mar. 2020 There are reportedly massive prisoner releases as a requirement of this deal. CBS News, "Transcript: Chris Murphy on "Face the Nation," March 8, 2020," 8 Mar. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for prisoner

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prisoner.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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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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