Definition of captive in English:


Syllabification: cap·tive
Pronunciation: /ˈkaptiv



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  • 1Imprisoned or confined: the farm was used to hold prisoners of war captive a captive animal
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    • He rightly recognized that the Berlin Wall was an abomination and a poignant symbol of the chains imprisoning the captive nations of Eastern Europe.
    • Transporting captive animals entails confining them in our sense - they do not live well while cooped up - and may result in injury or death.
    • Interactions usually take place in confined settings with captive animals or, more rarely, with unconfined animals who have been conditioned to come by being fed.
    confined, caged, incarcerated, locked up; jailed, imprisoned, in prison, interned, detained, in captivity, under lock and key, behind bars
  • 1.1 [attributive] Having no freedom to choose alternatives or to avoid something: advertisements at the movie theater reach a captive audience
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    • Non-stop advertising to a captive audience is a marketing heaven and is exactly what our private rail networks plan to introduce very soon.
    • A Bolton Evening News reader correctly described the victims of that kind of marketing as a ‘vulnerable and captive audience’.
    • The company has made no secret of its intention to work with broadcasters and advertisers, and to market products directly to its 400,000-strong captive audience.
  • 1.2(Of a facility or service) controlled by, and typically for the sole use of, an establishment or company: a captive power plant
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    • Fed up with expensive state assigned-risk pools, DDA rented a captive facility instead - and slashed its expenses by half.
    • Company leaders note there are independent dairy processors as well as captive dairies Dean Foods is interested in purchasing.
    • The USA also retains residual regulation concerning captive shippers.


late Middle English: from Latin captivus, from capere 'seize, take'.

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