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

Definition of ransom

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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 2)

transitive verb

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Attackers could choose to surreptitiously track individuals or demand ransom payments to return disabled vehicles to working condition. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, 19 July 2022 California politicians allowed schools to remain closed more than any other state so the teachers unions could extort ransom payments from taxpayers. Fox News, 14 July 2022 But bitcoin’s transparency — the ledger is public for anyone to see — has also helped prosecutors track down some criminals and even recover ransom payments. Erin Griffith, BostonGlobe.com, 18 June 2022 In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that Conti’s attacks on hospitals, local governments and other organizations last year drew collective ransom payments of $200 million. David Uberti, WSJ, 1 June 2022 Nigeria's Senate passes bill to bar kidnap ransom payments: Nigeria's Senate has passed a bill barring the payment of ransoms to kidnappers at a time when thousands are in captivity, including passengers kidnapped during a train attack in March . Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2022 Nigeria’s Senate has passed a bill amending the country’s Terrorism Prevention Act to bar the ransom payments. Chinedu Asadu, ajc, 28 Apr. 2022 These attack types are both used against critical infrastructure to cause harm or to take over systems and data to extract ransom payments from victims. Richard Tracy, Forbes, 27 Apr. 2022 Rank-and-file programmers are paid around $1,500 to $2,000 per month for their work, but those negotiating ransom payments can take a cut of the profits. Matt Burgess, Wired, 16 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Yet huge corporations are successfully held to ransom every day by cyber crooks demanding millions for the safe return of data. Al Ramich, Forbes, 1 July 2022 The plot aimed not to kidnap or ransom but to kill. William Anthony Hay, WSJ, 17 June 2022 Say a client is living in a territory where kidnap and ransom for profit is a day-to-day threat. Mark Ellwood, Robb Report, 4 June 2022 These actors use Maui ransomware, a specific technology that has a North Korean hallmark, to infiltrate health care sectors and hold their systems ransom in exchange for a payment, American officials said in an advisory. Luke Barr, ABC News, 6 July 2022 Meanwhile, Joyce got a package from the Soviet Union from Dmitri (Tom Wlaschiha), a crooked prison guard in Siberia, who wanted to illicitly ransom Hopper—alive but imprisoned at a Soviet labor camp—back to her. James Grebey, Time, 27 May 2022 According to coauthor and seismologist Anthony Lomax, his impression from Haitian scientists is that a major impediment to a stable seismic network is general lawlessness, ranging from theft of equipment to ransom kidnapping. Alka Tripathy-lang, Ars Technica, 12 Mar. 2022 Should countries like Hungary be able to hold the rest of the bloc to ransom with its veto, and how can the EU reform that? Luke Mcgee, CNN, 31 May 2022 During the pandemic, sophisticated threat actors exploited the comparative ease of obtaining cyber insurance payouts to ransom businesses, in some cases holding critical infrastructure hostage and putting lives at risk. Gidi Cohen, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ransom

Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ransom.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ransom. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for ransom


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

Ransom biographical name

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

Definition of Ransom

John Crowe 1888–1974 American educator and poet

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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