- 1A sum of money demanded or paid for the release of a captive: the kidnappers demanded a ransom [mass noun]: he was demanding millions of pounds in ransomMore example sentences
pay-off, payment, price
- All but one have now been released, but only after millions of dollars in ransoms were paid.
- He maintained that he had no money to pay the ransom demanded and that it was a case of mistaken identity.
- Others are kidnapped and killed to extort lucrative ransoms from their families.
- 1.1 [mass noun] The holding or freeing of a captive in return for payment of a ransom: the capture and ransom of the kingMore example sentences
- It was he who through his manipulation and deception engineered the capture and ransom of my beloved daughter.
- The objectification of women is further underscored by Bacon's seizing them as captives for ransom.
- Exchange or ransom was to be strictly according to rank, as specified in elaborate tables.
verb[with object] Back to top
- 1Obtain the release of (a captive) by paying a ransom: the lord was captured in war and had to be ransomedMore example sentences
- The enemy was allowed, if they could, to ransom their enslaved women and children.
- He repeatedly had to ransom prisoners taken in the course of Lombard raids, who would otherwise have been sold off as slaves.
- No amnesty may be granted to him, nor can he be ransomed.
- 1.1Hold (a captive) and demand a ransom for their release: an English force burnt the village and ransomed the inhabitantsMore example sentences
- So some pirates now take hostages instead of ships or cargo, and ransom them for tens of thousands of dollars.
- It's just an incredibly natural film where Robert Shaw heads up a crew of four men who hijack a New York City subway train and ransom the passengers for a million dollars.
- Suspecting the car may be the one being ransomed, police stopped Ali Jaan before he got into the car.
- 1.2Release (a captive) after receiving a ransom: they were all ransomed and returned unharmedMore example sentences
- The ransomed Sarah was delivered to the Sisters at La Chine and was baptized a Catholic at age fifteen.
- Being ransomed to him would work out best for everyone.
hold someone to ransom
- Hold someone captive and demand payment for their release.More example sentences
- Some of them have recently made life difficult for the British servicemen there, by abducting 11 of their number and effectively holding them to ransom.
- Earlier this month, another man was arrested for planning to kidnap a Barcelona player so he could hold him to ransom to pay off his business debt.
- A Yorkshire businessman tried to hold his own family to ransom after claiming he had been kidnapped from his kebab shop.
- Demand concessions from a person or organization by threatening damaging action: the company would be powerful enough to hold governments to ransomMore example sentences
- He also suggested the company had been held to ransom by its creditor banks.
- Firstly it would free us from the oil barons who are holding us to ransom.
- The universities are held to ransom by the threat that a failure to boost state school intake will mean financial penalties.
a king's ransom
- A huge amount of money: perfume which cost a king’s ransom per ounceMore example sentences
- A friend lost a king's ransom and asked me to look into the circumstances, and what I found was disturbing.
- While showering Taylor with jewels worth a king's ransom, he also gave generously to friends such as Smith.
- It is hardly a king's ransom, but it could make all the difference.
Middle English: from Old French ransoun (noun), ransouner (verb), from Latin redemptio(n-) 'ransoming, releasing' (see redemption). Early use also occurred in theological contexts expressing 'deliverance' and 'atonement'.