ran·​som | \ ˈran(t)-səm How to pronounce ransom (audio) \

Definition of ransom

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity
2 : the act of ransoming


ransomed; ransoming; ransoms

Definition of ransom (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to deliver especially from sin or its penalty
2 : to free from captivity or punishment by paying a price


biographical name
Ran·​som | \ ˈran(t)-səm How to pronounce Ransom (audio) \

Definition of Ransom (Entry 3 of 3)

John Crowe 1888–1974 American educator and poet

Other Words from ransom


ransomer noun

Synonyms for ransom

Synonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for ransom


rescue, deliver, redeem, ransom, reclaim, save mean to set free from confinement or danger. rescue implies freeing from imminent danger by prompt or vigorous action. rescued the crew of a sinking ship deliver implies release usually of a person from confinement, temptation, slavery, or suffering. delivered his people from bondage redeem implies releasing from bondage or penalties by giving what is demanded or necessary. job training designed to redeem school dropouts from chronic unemployment ransom specifically applies to buying out of captivity. tried to ransom the kidnap victim reclaim suggests a bringing back to a former state or condition of someone or something abandoned or debased. reclaimed long-abandoned farms save may replace any of the foregoing terms; it may further imply a preserving or maintaining for usefulness or continued existence. an operation that saved my life

Examples of ransom in a Sentence

Noun The kidnappers demanded a ransom of one million dollars. The family is willing to pay ransom for his release. The ransom note explained the terms under which she would be released. Verb He was held captive for a week before he was ransomed and returned to his family. the prince emptied the treasury to ransom his son from the kidnappers
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun When throngs of Syrians fleeing civil war surged through Turkey toward the European Union in 2015, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held the bloc ransom. Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2021 The average ransom ask per incident is over $10 million. Edward Segal, Forbes, 11 Nov. 2021 Later the scammer dropped the ransom via text from $100 to $20. John Benson, cleveland, 9 Nov. 2021 Eventually Milien and the five others were released after an undisclosed ransom amount was paid. DÁnica Coto, ajc, 9 Nov. 2021 Kempton sent ransom notes promising to return the painting if the government invested more in care for the elderly. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 5 Nov. 2021 In June, the Justice Department announced that investigators had recovered millions of dollars in ransom money. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, 5 Nov. 2021 The Russian-speaking ransomware group, REvil, was behind the summer ransom of the world's largest meat processor, JBS, an attack that temporarily stalled operations at nine beef processing plants in the United States. Katie Bo Lillis And Sean Lyngaas, CNN, 3 Nov. 2021 Weeks later, Porter’s 12-year-old brother, Donnell, also turned up dead after he was kidnapped and held for $500,000 in ransom money. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 1 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As hard as organizations have worked to shore up security for hybrid operations, cybercriminals have worked just as diligently to find new ways of infiltrating and holding ransom major players in the supply chain. Kevin Beasley, Forbes, 18 Oct. 2021 In Woodke's case, years went by without any communication or ransom demands by the captor network, sources involved in the case have told ABC News. James Gordon Meek, ABC News, 17 Nov. 2021 The US Justice Department is seeking the extradition of Denis Dubnikov, 29, who is accused of receiving more than $400,000 in cryptocurrency tied to ransom payments, according to a copy of the extradition request reviewed by CNN. Sean Lyngaas, CNN, 12 Nov. 2021 Abdul began worrying about kidnappings and ransom demands. Raheem Hosseini, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 Sep. 2021 The spec, an action thriller, follows a kidnapping and ransom negotiator tasked with finding a nine-year-old boy who went missing on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Matt Donnelly, Variety, 30 Aug. 2021 With many companies reluctant to talk about security breaches and ransom payments, some experts wonder if the scale of the problem is much bigger than publicly disclosed. Adrian Croft, Fortune, 1 June 2021 Both the group's blog site and ransom negotiation portal shut down, CBS News confirmed. Nicole Sganga, CBS News, 15 July 2021 There’s also the chance investigators in at least some cases can recover from criminals ransom that has been paid. Eric Tucker, Fortune, 7 July 2021

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ransom


Middle English ransoun, from Anglo-French rançun, from Latin redemption-, redemptio — more at redemption

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Time Traveler for ransom

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The first known use of ransom was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near ransom




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Statistics for ransom

Last Updated

19 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ransom.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ransom. Accessed 7 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for ransom



English Language Learners Definition of ransom

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: money that is paid in order to free someone who has been captured or kidnapped



English Language Learners Definition of ransom (Entry 2 of 2)

: to pay money in order to free (a person who has been captured or kidnapped)


ran·​som | \ ˈran-səm How to pronounce ransom (audio) \

Kids Definition of ransom

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something paid or demanded for the freedom of a captured person
2 : the act of freeing from captivity by paying a price


ransomed; ransoming

Kids Definition of ransom (Entry 2 of 2)

: to free from captivity or punishment by paying a price



Legal Definition of ransom

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity — see also kidnapping


transitive verb

Legal Definition of ransom (Entry 2 of 2)

: to free from captivity by paying a price

More from Merriam-Webster on ransom

Nglish: Translation of ransom for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ransom for Arabic Speakers


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