Definitions

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

  • n. One, such as a prisoner of war, who is forcibly confined, subjugated, or enslaved.
  • n. One held in the grip of a strong emotion or passion.
  • adj. Taken and held prisoner, as in war.
  • adj. Held in bondage; enslaved.
  • adj. Kept under restraint or control; confined: captive birds.
  • adj. Restrained by circumstances that prevent free choice: a captive audience; a captive market.
  • adj. Enraptured, as by beauty; captivated.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a person who has been captured or is otherwise confined
  • n. a person held prisoner
  • adj. held prisoner; not free; confined

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. One who is taken prisoner, especially a prisoner taken in war by an enemy; one taken and kept in confinement.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • To make captive; bring into subjection.
  • To captivate; insnare.

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

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

Etymologies

Middle English captif, from Old French, from Latin captīvus, from captus, past participle of capere, to seize; see kap- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Ultimately from Latin captivus. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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

    Iowa State Daily

  • 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.

    NASA Watch: Keith Cowing: March 2010 Archives

  • 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.

    CNN Transcript Oct 11, 2008

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

    ScreenTalk

  • 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.

    Pet capuchin monkeys can turn on their owners, experts warn

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

    Democrats accuse GOP of inciting mobs

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

    Tom McIntyre Explains His Picks for our 2009 Hunting and Fishing Heroes and Villians Face-Off

  • This has been seen both in captive situations and in the tuna fishery where tens of thousands of dolphins have been encircled by nets.

    Hardy Jones: Does Cutting Nets Free Captive Dolphins?

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