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jail

Line breaks: jail
Pronunciation: /dʒeɪl
 
/
(British also gaol)

Definition of jail in English:

noun

A place for the confinement of people accused or convicted of a crime: he spent 15 years in jail [as modifier]: a jail sentence
More example sentences
  • Last year the number of inmates in the nation's prisons and jails reached nearly 1,932,000, a record number.
  • David Brown says the Royal Commission helped end the violence against prisoners which existed in some jails.
  • In February the United States reached a benchmark of 2 million individuals in its prisons and jails.
Synonyms
prison, penal institution, place of detention, lock-up, place of confinement, guardhouse, correctional facility, detention centre;
informal the clink, the slammer, inside, stir, the jug, the big house, the brig, the glasshouse
British informal the nick
North American informal the can, the pen, the cooler, the joint, the pokey, the slam, the skookum house, the calaboose, the hoosegow
British informal , dated chokey, bird, quod
historical pound, roundhouse
British historical approved school, borstal, bridewell
Scottish historical tollbooth
French, historical bastille
North American historical reformatory

verb

[with object] Back to top  
Put (someone) in jail: the driver was jailed for two years
More example sentences
  • But they decided that, well for a start she's not likely to do it again, and that no useful purpose would be spent by jailing her.
  • As well as jailing him for three years, she also ordered he forfeit £165 he had with him when he was arrested, and that the heroin be destroyed.
  • As well as jailing him for eight weeks magistrates imposed another driving ban, which runs out at the same time as his current disqualification.
Synonyms
imprison, put in prison, send to prison, incarcerate, lock up, take into custody, put under lock and key, put away, intern, confine, detain, hold prisoner, hold captive, hold, put into detention, constrain, immure, put in chains, put in irons, clap in irons;
British detain at Her Majesty's pleasure
informal send down, put behind bars, put inside
British informal bang up

Origin

Middle English: based on Latin cavea (see cage). The word came into English in two forms, jaiole from Old French and gayole from Anglo-Norman French gaole (surviving in the spelling gaol), originally pronounced with a hard g, as in goat.

More
  • The words jail and cage (Middle English) both go back to Latin cavea ‘hollow, cave, cell’, from cavus ‘hollow’ the source of cave. In Late Latin the -ea at the end of cavea softened to a ‘ya’ or ‘ja’ sound, which explains the sound changes between the source and the forms we use. Jail arrived in medieval English in two forms, from Old French jaiole and Anglo-Norman gaole, which survives in the old-fashioned British spelling gaol.

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