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[im-priz-uh n] /ɪmˈprɪz ən/
verb (used with object)
to confine in or as if in a prison.
Origin of imprison
1250-1300; Middle English enprisonen < Old French enprisoner, equivalent to en- en-1 + prison prison + -er infinitive suffix
Related forms
imprisonable, adjective
imprisoner, noun
imprisonment, noun
reimprison, verb (used with object)
reimprisonment, noun
unimprisonable, adjective
unimprisoned, adjective
incarcerate, jail, restrain. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for imprisonment
  • Loyalists would of course refuse, which would then result either in their imprisonment or a lynching.
  • The court then sentenced him to ten months imprisonment.
  • We'll see the chain of intelligence that eventually led to his capture and imprisonment.
  • The punishment for crossing the border is imprisonment in labor camps, and worse for those who reach out to missionaries.
  • We need to recognize that drug use is a sickness that needs treatment, not imprisonment in privately-run, for-profit prisons.
  • Harper was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • Berger means more than imprisonment in the self or in society.
  • His two companions were each sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
  • He asked me to remember the cruelty of seven years of imprisonment, with alternating hopes and fears.
  • Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.
British Dictionary definitions for imprisonment


(transitive) to confine in or as if in prison
Derived Forms
imprisoner, noun
imprisonment, noun
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 imprisonment

late 14c., from Anglo-French emprisonement, Old French emprisonement (13c.), from emprisoner (see imprison).



c.1300, from Old French emprisoner (12c.), from em- "in" (see in- (2)) + prison (see prison). Related: Imprisoned; imprisoning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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