from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One, such as a prisoner of war, who is forcibly confined, subjugated, or enslaved.
  • noun One held in the grip of a strong emotion or passion.
  • noun A subsidiary that serves only its parent company.
  • adjective Taken and held prisoner, as in war.
  • adjective Held in bondage; enslaved.
  • adjective Kept under restraint or control; confined.
  • adjective Enraptured, as by beauty; captivated.
  • adjective Restrained by circumstances that prevent free choice.
  • adjective Serving a single company exclusively.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make captive; bring into subjection.
  • To captivate; insnare.
  • Made prisoner, as in war; kept in bondage or confinement.
  • Bound or held by other than physical means, as by the ties of love or other passion; captivated.
  • Holding in confinement: as, captive chains.
  • noun One who is taken prisoner, especially a prisoner taken in war by an enemy; one taken and kept in confinement.
  • noun Figuratively, one who is charmed or subdued by beauty or excellence, by the lower passions of his own nature, or by the wiles of others; one whose affections are seized, or who is held by strong ties of love or any other passion.
  • noun Synonyms Prisoner, Captive. The word prisoner emphasizes the idea of restraint of liberty, but is not rhetorical or especially associated with feeling: the prisoner of war and the prisoner for crime may be shut up in a prison, kept by guards within defined limits, or given a restricted liberty on parole. The word captive suggests being completely in the power of another, whether confined or not; it has come to be a rhetorical word, suggesting helplessness and resulting unhappiness. Captured soldiers under guard are strictly prisoners, but are often and properly called captives. When we speak of a captive bird, we suggest its longing for liberty. The rights and interests of a prisoner are likely to be respected, but the captive may be abused or even sometimes sold into slavery. See captivity.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A prisoner taken by force or stratagem, esp., by an enemy, in war; one kept in bondage or in the power of another.
  • noun One charmed or subdued by beauty, excellence, or affection; one who is captivated.
  • transitive verb To take prisoner; to capture.
  • adjective Made prisoner, especially in war; held in bondage or in confinement.
  • adjective Subdued by love; charmed; captivated.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to bondage or confinement; serving to confine.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun a person who has been captured or is otherwise confined
  • noun a person held prisoner
  • adjective held prisoner; not free; confined

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

  • adjective giving or marked by complete attention to
  • adjective being in captivity
  • noun a person who is confined; especially a prisoner of war
  • noun an animal that is confined
  • noun a person held in the grip of a strong emotion or passion


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

[Middle English captif, from Old French, from Latin captīvus, from captus, past participle of capere, to seize; see kap- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Ultimately from Latin captivus.


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  • The bolt enters the skull and then retreats, and doesn't stay in the animal (thus the term captive).

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  • Branson's company Virgin Galactic announced Monday that the VSS Enterprise had successfully completed what it called a captive carry flight attached to a carrier plane.

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  • VALDES-DAPENA: Normally, even in today's market, the automaker has an incentive, the automaker is what they call a captive finance arm, like GMAC or Toyota Motor Credit, has an incentive to try to get you the best deal, because they want to sell you a vehicle.

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  • So, the way I think about it is through the cycle I have to return that for all of our capital, so we don't have what I call captive capital anymore.

    Financial Sector and Stocks Analysis from Seeking Alpha 2009

  • So, the way I think about it is through the cycle I have to return that for all of our capital, so we don't have what I call captive capital anymore.

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  • The American "captive" is beset in his struggle by "interpretations, admonitions, forewarnings and descriptions of himself by the self-appointed prophets, priests, judges and prefabricators of his travail," says Martin.

    Saul Bellow - Nobel Lecture 1976

  • But the other thing to take from that message I think it's really interesting but even when I compare him to the night after the election it's like Rodney Hide has understood a bit better that he is a small party working with a very large party, and even mentioned what percentage of the vote ACT had and I think that was an important point, and the point is that ACT is what we call a captive party, they're off on the right flank of National they've got nowhere else to go and they do not want to be seen to be the tail wagging the dog, so he's being much more careful publicly.

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  • Beth Preiss, a specialist in captive wildlife regulatory matters with the Humane Society of the United States in Gaithersburg, Maryland, also is not a fan of capuchins as pocket pets.

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  • The GOP has allowed its future remain captive of an extreme minority led by political talk show entertainers.

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  • I saw your earlier post regarding whether waterboarding or punching a captive is or isn't torture.

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