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

  • intransitive verb To break loose from confinement; get free.
  • intransitive verb To issue from confinement or enclosure; leak or seep out.
  • intransitive verb To avoid a serious or unwanted outcome.
  • intransitive verb Biology To become established in the wild. Used of a plant or animal.
  • intransitive verb Computers To interrupt a command, exit a program, or change levels within a program by using a key, combination of keys, or key sequence.
  • intransitive verb To succeed in avoiding.
  • intransitive verb To break loose from; get free of.
  • intransitive verb To be outside the memory or understanding of; fail to be remembered or understood by.
  • intransitive verb To issue involuntarily from.
  • noun The act or an instance of escaping.
  • noun A means of escaping.
  • noun A means of obtaining temporary freedom from worry, care, or unpleasantness.
  • noun A gradual effusion from an enclosure; a leakage.
  • noun Biology A cultivated plant or a domesticated or confined animal that has become established in the wild.
  • noun Computers A key used especially to interrupt a command, exit a program, or change levels within a program.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To slip or flee away; succeed in evading or avoiding danger or injury; get away from threatened harm: as, he escaped scot-free.
  • To free or succeed in freeing one's self from custody or restraint; gain or regain liberty.
  • Synonyms To abscond, decamp, steal away, break loose, break away.
  • To succeed in evading, avoiding, or eluding; be unnoticed, uninjured, or unaffected by; evade; elude: as, the fact escaped his attention; to escape danger or a contagious disease; to escape death.
  • noun Flight to shun danger, injury, or restraint; the act of fleeing from danger or custody.
  • noun The condition of being passed by without receiving injury when danger threatens; avoidance of or preservation from some harm or injury: as, escape from contagion, or from bankruptcy.
  • noun In law, the regaining of liberty or transcending the limits of confinement, without due course of law, by a person in custody of the law.
  • noun A means of flight; that by which danger or injury may be avoided, or liberty regained: as, a fire-escape.
  • noun Excuse; subterfuge; evasion.
  • noun That which escapes attention; an oversight; a mistake.
  • noun An escapade; a wild or irregular action.
  • noun In botany, a plant which has escaped from cultivation, and become self-established, more or less permanently, in fields or by roadsides.
  • noun Leakage or loss, as of gas, or of a current of electricity in a telegraph or electric-light circuit by reason of imperfect insulation; also, in electricity, a shunt or derived current.
  • noun In architecture, the curved part of the shaft of a column where it springs out of the base; the apophyge. See cut under column.
  • noun The outlet or gate in an irrigation or other hydraulic work by which water may be permitted to escape from the canal, either automatically or under direct control.

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

  • transitive verb To flee from and avoid; to be saved or exempt from; to shun; to obtain security from.
  • transitive verb To avoid the notice of; to pass unobserved by; to evade.
  • intransitive verb To flee, and become secure from danger; -- often followed by from or out of.
  • intransitive verb To get clear from danger or evil of any form; to be passed without harm.
  • intransitive verb To get free from that which confines or holds; -- used of persons or things
  • noun The act of fleeing from danger, of evading harm, or of avoiding notice; deliverance from injury or any evil; flight; ; also, the means of escape.
  • noun obsolete That which escapes attention or restraint; a mistake; an oversight; also, transgression.
  • noun A sally.
  • noun (Law) The unlawful permission, by a jailer or other custodian, of a prisoner's departure from custody.
  • noun (Bot.) A plant which has escaped from cultivation.
  • noun (Arch.) An apophyge.
  • noun Leakage or outflow, as of steam or a liquid.
  • noun (Elec.) Leakage or loss of currents from the conducting wires, caused by defective insulation.
  • noun (Steam Boilers) a pipe for carrying away steam that escapes through a safety valve.
  • noun (Steam Engine) a relief valve; a safety valve. See under Relief, and Safety.
  • noun (Horol.) the wheel of an escapement.

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

  • verb intransitive To get free, to free oneself.
  • verb transitive To avoid (any unpleasant person or thing); to elude, get away from.
  • verb intransitive To avoid capture; to get away with something, avoid punishment.
  • verb transitive To elude the observation or notice of; to not be seen or remembered by.


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

[Middle English escapen, from Old North French escaper, from Vulgar Latin *excappāre, to get out of one's cape, get away : Latin ex-, ex- + Medieval Latin cappa, cloak.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman and Old Northern French escaper ( = Old French eschaper, modern French échapper), from Vulgar Latin *excapare, from Latin ex- ("out") + capio ("capture").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word escape.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • run from a danger

    May 16, 2009

  • escapement



    July 7, 2011

  • Oh, wait--I see what you did there, a. That's cool!

    July 7, 2011