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[priz-uh-ner, priz-ner] /ˈprɪz ə nər, ˈprɪz nər/
a person who is confined in prison or kept in custody, especially as the result of legal process.
a person or thing that is deprived of liberty or kept in restraint.
1300-50; Middle English < Anglo-French. See prison, -er2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for prisoners
  • In essence, the prisoners did not actually adopt communist beliefs.
  • prisoners were blinded, dragged behind horses, and used for target practice.
  • In this area, prisoners who were thought to merit individual execution received it.
  • At the end of the war, both sides released their surviving prisoners.
  • He occasionally sent her prisoners that he had no further use for.
  • Over one hundred prisoners of war were captured along with around eight war elephants.
  • A group of camps was established, and prisoners were forced to work in the coal mines.
  • The dutch prisoners of war were returned, but not the dutch ships.
  • Saint clement arrived to find the prisoners suffering from a great lack of water.
British Dictionary definitions for prisoners


a person deprived of liberty and kept in prison or some other form of custody as a punishment for a crime, while awaiting trial, or for some other reason
a person confined by any of various restraints: we are all prisoners of time
(informal) take no prisoners, to be uncompromising and resolute in one's actions
take someone prisoner, to capture and hold someone as a prisoner, esp as a prisoner of war
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 prisoners



"person in prison, captive person," late 14c. (earlier "a jailer," mid-13c., but this did not survive Middle English), from Old French prisonier "captive, hostage" (12c., Modern French prisonnier), from prisoun (see prison (n.)). Captives taken in war have been called prisoners since mid-14c.; phrase prisoner of war dates from 1670s (see also POW). Prisoner's dilemma attested from 1957.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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