Word of the Day : April 6, 2020


verb in-KAHR-suh-rayt


1 : to put in prison

2 : to subject to confinement

Did You Know?

A criminal sentenced to incarceration may wish their debt to society could be canceled; such a wistful felon might be surprised to learn that incarcerate and cancel are related. Incarcerate comes from incarcerare, a Latin verb meaning "to imprison." That Latin root comes from carcer, meaning "prison." Etymologists think that cancel probably got its start when the spelling of carcer was modified to cancer, which means "lattice" in Latin—an early meaning of cancel in English was "to mark (a passage) for deletion with lines crossed like a lattice." Aside from its literal meaning, incarcerate has a figurative application meaning "to subject to confinement," as in "people incarcerated in their obsessions."


Because the accused man presented a serious threat to society, the judge ordered that he remain incarcerated while he awaited trial.

"But he said that some research demonstrates that when incarcerated people earn a degree, recidivism rates can drop by as much as 40%." — Eliza Fawcett, The Hartford Courant, 24 Feb. 2020

Name That Synonym

Fill in the blanks to complete a synonym of incarcerate: i _ _ u _ e.



More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!