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

  • noun A place for the confinement and punishment of persons convicted of crimes, especially felonies.
  • noun A state of imprisonment or captivity.
  • noun A place or condition of confinement or restriction.
  • transitive verb To confine in or as if in a prison; imprison.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To shut up in a prison; restrain from liberty; imprison, literally or figuratively.
  • noun A place of confinement or involuntary restraint; especially, a public building for the confinement or safe custody of criminals and others committed by process of law; a jail.
  • noun A prisoner.
  • noun A public prison or penitentiary.

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

  • transitive verb To imprison; to shut up in, or as in, a prison; to confine; to restrain from liberty.
  • transitive verb obsolete To bind (together); to enchain.
  • noun A place where persons are confined, or restrained of personal liberty; hence, a place or state o� confinement, restraint, or safe custody.
  • noun Specifically, a building for the safe custody or confinement of criminals and others committed by lawful authority.
  • noun See Base, n., 24.
  • noun (Law) See Note under 3d Escape, n., 4.
  • noun a prison.
  • noun (Naut.) a ship fitted up for the confinement of prisoners.
  • noun a carriage in which prisoners are conveyed to and from prison.

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

  • noun A place of long-term confinement for those convicted of serious crimes, or otherwise considered undesirable by the government.
  • noun uncountable Confinement in a prison.
  • noun colloquial Any restrictive environment, such as a harsh academy or home.
  • verb transitive to imprison

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

  • noun a prisonlike situation; a place of seeming confinement
  • noun a correctional institution where persons are confined while on trial or for punishment


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

[Middle English, from Old French, alteration (influenced by Old French pris, taken) of Latin prēnsiō, prēnsiōn-, a seizing, from *prehēnsiō, from prehēnsus, past participle of prehendere, to seize; see ghend- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French prison, from Latin prehensionem, accusative singular of prehensio, from prehendō


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  • Stone Walls do not a Prison make,

    Nor Iron bars a Cage ;

    Mindes innocent and quiet take

    That for an Hermitage ;

    If I have freedome in my Love,

    And in my soule am free ;

    Angels alone that sore above,

    Injoy such Liberty.

    - Richard Lovelace, 'To Althea. From Prison.'

    February 7, 2009