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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.
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).