Definition of captive in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkaptɪv/


A person who has been taken prisoner or an animal that has been confined: the policeman put a pair of handcuffs on the captive
More example sentences
  • The United States government is forbidden by its own law from torturing captives and prisoners.
  • Another short chain joins the leg-irons to the handcuffs, ensuring the captives cannot walk properly.
  • The rebels generally bring their captives across the border to a Lord's Resistance Army camp in Sudan.
prisoner, convict, detainee, inmate;
prisoner of war, POW, internee, hostage;
slave, bondsman
informal jailbird, con
British informal (old) lag
North American informal yardbird


1Imprisoned or confined: the farm was used to hold prisoners of war captive a captive animal
More example sentences
  • 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, penned up;
chained, shackled, fettered, ensnared;
restrained, under restraint, restricted, secure;
jailed, imprisoned, in prison, interned, detained, in captivity, under lock and key, behind bars, in bondage, taken prisoner;
1.1 [attributive] Having no freedom to choose alternatives or to avoid something: advertisements at the cinema reach a captive audience
More example sentences
  • 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.
2(Of a facility or service) controlled by, and typically for the sole use of, an organization: a captive power plant
More example sentences
  • 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'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cap|tive

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