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[kap-tuh-veyt] /ˈkæp təˌveɪt/
verb (used with object), captivated, captivating.
to attract and hold the attention or interest of, as by beauty or excellence; enchant:
Her blue eyes and red hair captivated him.
Obsolete. to capture; subjugate.
Origin of captivate
1520-30; < Late Latin captīvātus (past participle of captīvāre to take captive), equivalent to Latin captīv(us) captive + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
captivatingly, adverb
captivation, noun
captivative, adjective
captivator, noun
uncaptivated, adjective
uncaptivating, adjective
uncaptivative, adjective
1. fascinate, bewitch, charm. 2. subdue. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for captivate
Historical Examples
  • It was, indeed, just the spot to captivate a youthful and susceptible fancy.

    Night and Morning, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • She seemed born, not only to captivate the giddy, but to turn the heads of the sage.

    Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The effort to captivate where there is no stake to win, means mischief.

    Lord Kilgobbin Charles Lever
  • I captivate—just as I fish, hunt, sketch, or shoot—to amuse myself.

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • And his mind was devilishly clever enough to captivate my fancy.

    Possessed Cleveland Moffett
  • "I am quite innocent of any intention to captivate," replied Fanny.

    Frank Fairlegh Frank E. Smedley
  • To captivate the affections was a secondary use of the phrase.

  • Molly, you will delight in her; she is just the woman to captivate you completely.

  • "You are very beautiful; you will captivate the king," said Ambition.

    Second Book of Tales

    Eugene Field
  • Just the kind of girl I should suppose likely to captivate poor Edward.

    Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen
British Dictionary definitions for captivate


verb (transitive)
to hold the attention of by fascinating; enchant
an obsolete word for capture
Derived Forms
captivatingly, adverb
captivation, noun
captivator, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin captivāre, from captīvuscaptive
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 captivate

1520s, "to enthrall with charm," from Late Latin captivatus, past participle of captivare "to take, capture," from captivus (see captive). Literal sense (1550s) is rare or obsolete in English, which uses capture (q.v.). Latin captare "to take, hold" also had a transferred sense of "to entice, entrap, allure." Related: Captivated; captivating; captivatingly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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