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[jeyl] /dʒeɪl/
a prison, especially one for the detention of persons awaiting trial or convicted of minor offenses.
verb (used with object)
to take into or hold in lawful custody; imprison.
Also, British, gaol.
1225-75; Middle English gaiole, jaiole, jaile < Old North French gaiole, Old French jaiole cage < Vulgar Latin *gaviola, variant of *caveola, diminutive of Latin cavea cage; see -ole1
Related forms
jailable, adjective
jailless, adjective
jaillike, adjective
nonjailable, adjective
rejail, verb (used with object)
unjailed, adjective
Can be confused
jail, prison. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for jaillike


a place for the confinement of persons convicted and sentenced to imprisonment or of persons awaiting trial to whom bail is not granted
(informal) get out of jail, get out of jail free, to get out of a difficult situation
(transitive) to confine in prison
Derived Forms
jailless, gaolless, adjective
jail-like, gaol-like, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French jaiole cage, from Vulgar Latin caveola (unattested), from Latin cavea enclosure; see cage: the two spellings derive from the forms of the word that developed in two different areas of France, and the spelling gaol represents a pronunciation in use until the 17th century
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 jaillike
c.1275, gayhol, from O.N.Fr. gaiole and O.Fr. jaole, both meaning "a cage, prison," from M.L. gabiola, from L.L. caveola, dim. of L. cavea "cage." Both forms carried into M.E.; now pronounced "jail" however it is spelled. Norman-derived gaol (preferred in Britain) is "chiefly due to statutory and official tradition" [OED]. The verb "to put in jail" is from 1604. Jailbird is 1603, an allusion to a caged bird. Jail-break "prison escape" is from 1910. Jail bait "girl under the legal age of consent" is attested from 1934.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for jaillike



To live tolerably in jail; survive imprisonment: Roy taught me how to jail (1980s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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