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[v. in-kahr-suh-reyt; adj. in-kahr-ser-it, -suh-reyt] /v. ɪnˈkɑr səˌreɪt; adj. ɪnˈkɑr sər ɪt, -səˌreɪt/
verb (used with object), incarcerated, incarcerating.
to imprison; confine.
to enclose; constrict closely.
Origin of incarcerate
1520-30; < Medieval Latin incarcerātus past participle of incarcerāre to imprison, equivalent to in- in-2 + carcer prison + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
incarceration, noun
incarcerative, adjective
incarcerator, noun
unincarcerated, adjective
1. jail, immure, intern. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for incarcerate
  • We spend way too much to incarcerate non-violent drug users, who could be paying taxes rather than sucking them up.
  • There are some highly placed people who feel that the urge to incarcerate has gotten out of hand.
  • We incarcerate people because they post a danger to society.
  • The system of reeducation through labor allows the police to incarcerate a crime suspect for up to four years.
  • We incarcerate people who become addicted to drugs that our government promoted the sale of globally.
  • We cannot incarcerate vastly more citizens per capita than any other country.
  • With his past record, they could easily incarcerate him.
  • For generations, arson inspectors have used outmoded theories to help indict and incarcerate many suspects.
  • Making matters worse, this rush to incarcerate has not been matched by an equal commitment to funding.
  • Society must incarcerate serious and violent offenders who endanger the community.
British Dictionary definitions for incarcerate


(transitive) to confine or imprison
Derived Forms
incarceration, noun
incarcerator, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin incarcerāre, from Latin in-² + carcer prison
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 incarcerate

1550s, a back-formation from incarceration, or else from Medieval Latin incarceratus, past participle of incarcerare "to imprison" (see incarceration). Related: Incarcerated; incarcerating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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