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From Latin confiscare (to declare property of the fisc).


  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: con‧fis‧cate


confiscate (third-person singular simple present confiscates, present participle confiscating, simple past and past participle confiscated)

  1. (transitive) To use one's authority to lay claim to and separate a possession from its holder.
    In schools it is common for teachers to confiscate electronic games and other distractions.
    • c. 1613, John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi, London: John Waterson, 1623, Act III, Scene 2,[1]
      We doe confiscate
      (Towards the satisfying of your accounts)
      All that you haue.
    • 1768, Alexander Dow (translator), The History of Hindostan by Muḥammad Qāsim Hindū Shāh Astarābādī, London: T. Becket & P.A. de Hondt, Volume 2, Section 4, p. 63,[2]
      The Persian having evacuated the imperial provinces, the vizier became more cruel and oppressive than ever: he extorted money from the poor by tortures, and confiscated the estates of the nobility, upon false or very frivolous pretences.
    • 1894, Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad, New York: Charles L. Webster & Co., Chapter 11, p. 174,[3]
      Whenever you strike a frontier—that’s the border of a country, you know—you find a custom-house there, and the gov’ment officers comes and rummages among your things and charges a big tax, which they call a duty because it’s their duty to bust you if they can, and if you don’t pay the duty they’ll hog your sand. They call it confiscating, but that don’t deceive nobody, it’s just hogging, and that’s all it is.
    • 1937, Robert Byron, The Road to Oxiana, London: Macmillan, Part 2, p. 46,[4]
      They took photographs of the bodies, but these were confiscated on return to Baghdad, and orders were given that nothing was to be said of what they had seen.




confiscate (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) Confiscated; seized and appropriated by the government for public use; forfeit.
    • c. 1589, William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, Act I, Scene 2,[5]
      Therefore give out you are of Epidamnum,
      Lest that your goods too soon be confiscate.
    • c. 1596, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene 1,[6]
      [] thy lands and goods
      Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
      Unto the state of Venice.
    • 1642, Walter Raleigh, The Prince, or, Maxims of State, London, “Preservation of an Aristocraty,” p. 34,[7]
      [] not to lay into the Exchequer, or Common Treasury, such goods as are confiscate, but to store them up as holy and consecrate things, which except it bee practised, confiscations, and fines of the Common people would bee frequent, and so this State would decay by weakening the people.

See also[edit]




  1. second-person plural present indicative of confiscare
  2. second-person plural imperative of confiscare
  3. feminine plural of confiscato





  1. second-person plural present active imperative of cōnfiscō