Definition of escape in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈskāp/


1 [no object] Break free from confinement or control: two burglars have just escaped from prison (as adjective escaped) escaped convicts
More example sentences
  • She told police the attacker tied her up but that she managed to struggle free and escape into the bush.
  • If it hadn't been for the collar, she could easily have broken free and escaped.
  • I followed silently behind the two guards, debating within my mind whether to break free and escape, or stay near to him.
run away/off, get out, break out, break free, make a break for it, bolt, flee, take flight, make off, take off, abscond, take to one's heels, make one's getaway, make a run for it;
disappear, vanish, slip away, sneak away
informal cut and run, skedaddle, vamoose, fly the coop, take French leave, go on the lam
1.1 [with object] Elude or get free from (someone): he drove along I-84 to escape the police
More example sentences
  • Many of the villages are located in the Troodos Mountains, which is where Cypriots go to escape the maddening crowds along the coast.
  • On the second occasion, she pleaded with paramedics at midnight to call the police because she wanted to be locked up and escape a man she claimed was after her.
  • After escaping the police, he had run along the roofs of the buildings and come to the end of the block.
get away from, escape from, elude, avoid, dodge, shake off
informal give someone the slip
1.2Succeed in avoiding or eluding something dangerous, unpleasant, or undesirable: the driver escaped with a broken knee [with object]: a baby boy narrowly escaped death
More example sentences
  • A family who narrowly escaped with their lives after their home went up in flames have been dealt a second blow after burglars broke into the damaged house and stole hundreds of pounds worth of goods.
  • A Colchester couple and their nine-year-old son narrowly escaped with their lives after the tsunami hit their beachfront apartment in Sri Lanka.
  • Shots were fired and Tony narrowly escaped with his life.
avoid, evade, dodge, elude, miss, cheat, sidestep, circumvent, steer clear of
informal duck
1.3(Of a gas, liquid, or heat) leak from a container.
Example sentences
  • He was found alongside the body of his girlfriend; both had been poisoned by carbon monoxide gas escaping from the apartment's oven.
  • There is an undefined hiss like air escaping but right now that is it.
  • The low-tech way to protect against ice is to float a ball to keep an air hole open, letting noxious gases escape.
leak (out), seep (out), discharge, emanate, issue, flow (out), pour (out), gush (out), spurt (out), spew (out)
1.4 [with object] (Of words or sounds) issue involuntarily or inadvertently from (someone or their lips): a sob escaped her lips
More example sentences
  • ‘No,’ I screamed, the word escaping me before I realised that it had left my lips.
  • His back arched involuntarily, and a content ‘mmm’ sound escaped his lips, edged with a groan.
  • I ran a hand through my hair and was about to say something, when Jess stormed past, a small, frustrated sound escaping her.
2 [with object] Fail to be noticed or remembered by (someone): the name escaped him it may have escaped your notice, but this is not a hotel
More example sentences
  • I was just about to throttle them both but then I noticed something that had escaped me before.
  • If the author has given his name, it has escaped my notice.
  • But the official-sounding name has not escaped the notice of those keeping a close watch on such titles.
3 [with object] Computing Interrupt (an operation) by means of the escape key.
Example sentences
  • Once installed, traditional Linux / UNIX escaping, quoting or tabbing is necessary to get to directories with spaces in their names.
  • When conducting a tag search in Movable Type, the application is not properly escaping the optional IncludeBlogs query string parameter.
3.1Cause (a subsequent character or characters) to be interpreted differently.


1An act of breaking free from confinement or control: the story of his escape from a POW camp he could think of no way of escape, short of rudeness
More example sentences
  • Finally, any kind of attempt at escape will mean solitary confinement for 30 days.
  • It tells the story of a 1946 escape attempt from that most infamous of prisons, Alcatraz.
  • The plucky farmer is understood to have startled the thief who eventually broke free and made his escape to a waiting car.
getaway, breakout, jailbreak, bolt, flight;
disappearance, vanishing act
1.1An act of successfully avoiding something dangerous, unpleasant, or unwelcome: the baby was fine, but it was a lucky escape
More example sentences
  • We opted for the bottled water and thanked our lucky stars for our narrow escape.
  • A Cranmore woman had a narrow escape when a bullet smashed through the front window of her car during last weekend's shooting.
  • An Ambleside man had a narrow escape after stumbling and sinking up to his armpits in a bog while walking on the Lake District fells, reports Paul Duncan.
avoidance of, evasion of, circumvention of
1.2A means of escaping from somewhere: [as modifier]: he had planned his escape route
More example sentences
  • I had an escape route planned out of town, and since I'd be driving my scooter I wouldn't have to worry about traffic.
  • Plan an escape route in case you are washed into the sea.
  • When rich nations lock poorer countries out of their markets in this way, they close the door to an escape route from poverty.
1.3A form of temporary distraction from reality or routine: romantic novels should present an escape from the dreary realities of life
More example sentences
  • The effects provide a temporary escape from reality by relieving fears, tension and anxiety.
  • The very nature of popular film is to provide an escape from daily reality and monotonous routines.
  • Online many people express fantasies or adopt identities precisely because they are an escape from reality.
distraction, diversion
1.4A leakage of gas, liquid, or heat from a container.
Example sentences
  • This expansion creates a metal-to-metal seal and prevents the escape of gases.
  • The company was yesterday visiting every house in the three villages to ensure the supply was turned off to prevent escapes when the gas goes back on.
  • The cause of the escape of gas was tracked down to a crack in an ageing pipe.
leak, leakage, spill, seepage, discharge, effusion, emanation, outflow, outpouring;
gush, stream, spurt
1.5A garden plant or pet animal that has gone wild and (especially in plants) become naturalized.
Example sentences
  • This tropical China native is a rare escape from cultivation.
  • It is most likely that the two trees are escapes or remnants from cultivation.
  • And Vaccinium macrocarpon (the cranberry) is now a casual escape on the Pacific coast.
1.6 (also escape key) Computing A key on a computer keyboard that either interrupts the current operation or causes subsequent characters to be interpreted differently.
Example sentences
  • His first thought, when something went wrong, was to immediately hit the escape key - even when he was nowhere near a computer.
  • Fortunately you can skip them by hitting the escape key.
  • It is possible to save the game at any stage in the play via the escape key.



Example sentences
  • For the rest of us, it's been an unbearable nightmare escapable only through alcohol and movies.
  • Heroes must be put into an easily escapable death situation.
  • The book sensitively depicts internal conflict that silences abuse victims, and shows readers the situation is escapable once the truth is revealed.


Example sentences
  • One of the country's most notorious prison escapers broke out of a top-security wing at the prison - and no-one noticed.
  • It comes as something of a surprise to learn that many of the most dedicated Allied escapers respected their resourceful Luftwaffe antagonists.
  • Survival on a southern chain gang is the main theme of this book in which a prolific escaper pits himself against authority in a constant test of wills.


Middle English: from Old French eschaper, based on medieval Latin ex- 'out' + cappa 'cloak'. Compare with escapade.

  • This is from Old French eschaper, based on medieval Latin ex- ‘out’ and cappa ‘cloak’, with the idea of leaving your pursuer just clutching your cloak. Escapade (mid 17th century) comes from the same source and originally had the same meaning. See also scapegoat

Words that rhyme with escape

agape, ape, cape, chape, crape, crêpe, drape, gape, grape, jape, misshape, nape, rape, scrape, shape, tape

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: es·cape

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