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[hos-tij] /ˈhɒs tɪdʒ/
a person given or held as security for the fulfillment of certain conditions or terms, promises, etc., by another.
Archaic. a security or pledge.
Obsolete. the condition of a hostage.
verb (used with object), hostaged, hostaging.
to give (someone) as a hostage:
He was hostaged to the Indians.
1225-75; Middle English < Old French hostage (h- by association with (h)oste host2), ostageVulgar Latin *obsidāticum state of being a hostage < Latin obsid- (stem of obses) hostage (equivalent to ob- ob- + sid- sit) + -āticum -age
Related forms
hostageship, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for hostages
  • He takes hostages from the villages and kills them when he feels it is necessary.
  • Thousands of deserters were killed their families were often treated as hostages.
  • The war ended in a peace treaty, and both sides exchanged hostages.
  • Some hostages are released whilst others are killed, sometimes by beheading.
  • He quickly took hostages to use in negotiations to free the other four chiricahua.
British Dictionary definitions for hostages


a person given to or held by a person, organization, etc, as a security or pledge or for ransom, release, exchange for prisoners, etc
the state of being held as a hostage
any security or pledge
give hostages to fortune, to place oneself in a position in which misfortune may strike through the loss of what one values most
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, from hoste guest, host1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hostages



late 13c., from Old French hostage "person given as security or hostage" (12c., Modern French ôtage), either from hoste "guest" (see host (n.1)) via notion of "a lodger held by a landlord as security," or from Late Latin obsidanus "condition of being held as security," from obses "hostage," from ob- "before" + base of sedere "to sit" [OED]. Modern political/terrorism sense is from 1970.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hostages in the Bible

a person delivered into the hands of another as a security for the performance of some promise, etc. (2 Kings 14:14; 2 Chr. 25:24).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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