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

  • n. One, such as a slave or serf, who is held in bondage.
  • n. One who is intellectually or morally enslaved.
  • n. Servitude; bondage: "a people in thrall to the miracles of commerce” ( Lewis H. Lapham).
  • transitive v. Archaic To enslave.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One who is enslaved or mind-controlled.
  • n. The state of being under the control of another person.
  • v. To make a thrall.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a thrall; in the condition of a thrall; bond; enslaved.
  • n. A slave; a bondman.
  • n. Slavery; bondage; servitude; thraldom.
  • n. A shelf; a stand for barrels, etc.
  • transitive v. To enslave.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A slave; a serf; a bondman; a captive.
  • n. One who is a slave to some desire, appetite, spell, or other influence; one who is in moral bondage.
  • n. Thraldom, literal or figurative; bondage; slavery; subjection.
  • n. A shelf or stand; a stand for barrels.
  • Enslaved; bond; subjugated.
  • Figuratively, subject; enthralled.
  • To deprive of liberty; enslave.
  • Figuratively, to put in subjection to some power or influence; enthrall.

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

  • n. someone held in bondage
  • n. the state of being under the control of another person


Middle English, from Old English thrǣl, from Old Norse thrǣll.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English þrǣl, from Old Norse þræll ("slave") whence the Icelandic þræll ("slave"); according to ODS probably akin to Old High German drigil, servant, to the Gothic 𐌸𐍂𐌰𐌲𐌾𐌰𐌽 (þragjan) and to the Old English þrægan, to run (Wiktionary)


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  • its penetrating ammonia scent held us in thrall

    August 25, 2011

  • He might be in sexual thrall to Isabel, he might even love her and the danger she represented, but I didn't think his heart and mind were wholly committed to her. -Charlaine Harris, Living Dead in Dallas

    December 11, 2010

  • From the OED online:

    One who is in bondage to a lord or master; a villein, serf, bondman, slave; also, in vaguer use, a servant, subject; transf. one whose liberty is forfeit; a captive, prisoner of war.
    Usage: c950 Lindisfarne Gospels, Mark x. 44 "And sua huæ see wælle in iuh formest wosa bie allra ræl." 991 Laws of Æthelred II. c. 5 §1 "yf Englisc man Deniscne ræl ofslea, ylde hine mid punde."


    March 7, 2007