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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- sit1) + -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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If a hostage is accepted, he is treated like a prisoner of war, according to rank and condition, as circumstances may admit.

    International Law George Grafton Wilson and George Fox Tucker
  • And then he had given a hostage to fortune, or his father had for him.

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • His father is very fond of him, but Runjeet very often keeps the boy as a hostage when Shere Singh is employed at a distance.

    Up the Country Emily Eden
  • With even that hope to get even with him, I will not kill you, yet I must have that money or a hostage.

    Buffalo Bill's Spy Trailer Colonel Prentiss Ingraham
  • He has, for this reason, resolved to detain you in it, as a hostage for them.

    Memoirs of Marguerite de Valois, Complete Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre
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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