Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The release of property or a person in return for payment of a demanded price.
  • n. The price or payment demanded or paid for such release.
  • n. A redemption from sin and its consequences.
  • transitive v. To obtain the release of by paying a certain price.
  • transitive v. To release after receiving such a payment.
  • transitive v. To deliver from sin and its consequences.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Money paid for the freeing of a hostage.
  • v. To deliver, especially in context of sin or relevant penalties.
  • v. To pay a price to set someone free from captivity or punishment.
  • v. To exact a ransom for, or a payment on.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The release of a captive, or of captured property, by payment of a consideration; redemption.
  • n. The money or price paid for the redemption of a prisoner, or for goods captured by an enemy; payment for freedom from restraint, penalty, or forfeit.
  • n. A sum paid for the pardon of some great offense and the discharge of the offender; also, a fine paid in lieu of corporal punishment.
  • transitive v. To redeem from captivity, servitude, punishment, or forfeit, by paying a price; to buy out of servitude or penalty; to rescue; to deliver.
  • transitive v. To exact a ransom for, or a payment on.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To redeem from captivity, bondage, forfeit, or punishment by paying or giving in return that which is demanded; buy out of servitude; buy off from penalty.
  • To redeem; rescue; deliver.
  • To hold at ransom; demand or accept a ransom for; exact payment on.
  • To set free for a price; give up the custody of on receipt of a consideration.
  • To atone for; expiate.
  • n. Redemption for a price; a holding for redemption; also, release from captivity, bondage, or the possession of an enemy for a consideration; liberation on payment or satisfaction of the price demanded.
  • n. The money or price awarded or paid for the redemption of a prisoner, captive, or slave, or for goods captured by an enemy; payment for liberation from restraint, penalty, or punishment.
  • n. Atonement; expiation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. exchange or buy back for money; under threat
  • n. payment for the release of someone
  • n. the act of freeing from captivity or punishment
  • n. money demanded for the return of a captured person

Etymologies

Middle English ransome, from Old French rançon, from Latin redēmptiō, redēmptiōn-, a buying back; see redemption.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From the Middle English ransoun, from the Old French rançon, from stem of Latin redemptio. (See redemption.) Entered English ca. the 13th century (Wiktionary)

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