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From Middle English prisoner, from Old French prisonier (compare Medieval Latin prisōnārius), equivalent to prison +‎ -er.



prisoner (plural prisoners)

  1. A person incarcerated in a prison, while on trial or serving a sentence.
    Synonym: jailbird
  2. Any person held against their will.
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act I, scene ii:
      And gainſt the General we will lift our ſwords / And either lanch his greedie thirſting throat, / Or take him priſoner, and his chaine ſhall ſerue / For Manackles, till he be ranſom’d home.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      Captain Edward Carlisle, soldier as he was, martinet as he was, felt a curious sensation of helplessness seize upon him as he met her steady gaze, her alluring smile ; he could not tell what this prisoner might do.
  3. A person who is or feels confined or trapped by a situation or a set of circumstances.
    I am no longer a prisoner to fear, for I am a child of God.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


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Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Form prisounen +‎ -er.


prisoner (plural prisoners)

  1. one who imprisons (others); a jailer

Etymology 2[edit]

Borrowed from Old French prisonier; equivalent to prisoun +‎ -er.

Alternative forms[edit]


  • IPA(key): /prizuˈneːr/, /ˈprizunər/


prisoner (plural prisoners or prisoneres)

  1. prisoner
  2. captive, prisoner of war
  • English: prisoner