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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.
Origin of hostage
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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for hostage
  • When demand exceeds supply, any producer will be able to hold the world hostage.
  • The world has been held hostage to oil and coal producers for far too long.
  • They would hold the crew hostage, threaten to sink the vessel, and demand a ransom payment.
  • He strapped explosives to his body, and he held the children hostage.
  • He also held general managers hostage with his contractual demands.
  • But books have been held hostage offline for far too long.
  • Below are lists of who was killed, who escaped, and who was held hostage.
  • Perhaps he would be willing to grant us peace, and receive me as a hostage.
  • Through obstruction and corruption- these corporations have shown they can hold a country hostage.
  • No one gets to hold you hostage to their inability to recognize your boundaries.
British Dictionary definitions for hostage


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 hostage

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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hostage 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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