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[ih-skeyp] /ɪˈskeɪp/
verb (used without object), escaped, escaping.
to slip or get away, as from confinement or restraint; gain or regain liberty:
to escape from jail.
Synonyms: flee, abscond, decamp.
to slip away from pursuit or peril; avoid capture, punishment, or any threatened evil.
to issue from a confining enclosure, as a fluid.
to slip away; fade:
The words escaped from memory.
Botany. (of an originally cultivated plant) to grow wild.
(of a rocket, molecule, etc.) to achieve escape velocity.
verb (used with object), escaped, escaping.
to slip away from or elude (pursuers, captors, etc.):
He escaped the police.
Synonyms: dodge, flee, avoid.
to succeed in avoiding (any threatened or possible danger or evil):
She escaped capture.
to elude (one's memory, notice, search, etc.).
to fail to be noticed or recollected by (a person):
Her reply escapes me.
(of a sound or utterance) to slip from or be expressed by (a person, one's lips, etc.) inadvertently.
an act or instance of escaping.
Synonyms: flight.
the fact of having escaped.
a means of escaping:
We used the tunnel as an escape.
avoidance of reality:
She reads mystery stories as an escape.
leakage, as of water or gas, from a pipe or storage container.
Botany. a plant that originated in cultivated stock and is now growing wild.
Physics, Rocketry. the act of achieving escape velocity.
(usually initial capital letter) Computers. Escape key.
for or providing an escape:
an escape route.
Origin of escape
1250-1300; Middle English escapen, ascapen < Old North French escaper (French échapper) < Vulgar Latin *excappāre, verbal derivative (with ex- ex-1) of Late Latin cappa hooded cloak (see cap1)
Related forms
escapable, adjective
escapeless, adjective
escaper, noun
escapingly, adverb
preescape, noun, verb (used without object), preescaped, preescaping.
self-escape, noun
unescapable, adjective
unescapably, adverb
unescaped, adjective
Synonym Study
7. Escape, elude, evade mean to keep free of something. To escape is to succeed in keeping away from danger, pursuit, observation, etc.: to escape punishment. To elude implies baffling pursuers or slipping through an apparently tight net: The fox eluded the hounds. To evade is to turn aside from or go out of reach of a person or thing: to evade the police. See also avoid.

Escape key

or escape key

a key (frequently labeled Esc) found on most computer keyboards and used for any of various functions, as to interrupt or cancel the current process or running program, or to close a pop-up window.
Also called Escape, Esc key. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for escape
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She helped Geta to escape: they have both taken refuge in the Temple of Theseus.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • He went back to the farmhouse to tell Paul of his nephew's escape.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • He little knew how narrow an escape he had had of losing a third!

    The Armourer's Prentices Charlotte M. Yonge
  • The rashness of such a requirement and statement can escape no one.

  • True, the plant has enemies, like everything else, enemies which it may not escape.

British Dictionary definitions for escape


to get away or break free from (confinements, captors, etc): the lion escaped from the zoo
to manage to avoid (imminent danger, punishment, evil, etc): to escape death
(intransitive) usually foll by from. (of gases, liquids, etc) to issue gradually, as from a crack or fissure; seep; leak: water was escaping from the dam
(transitive) to elude; be forgotten by: the actual figure escapes me
(transitive) to be articulated inadvertently or involuntarily: a roar escaped his lips
(intransitive) (of cultivated plants) to grow wild
the act of escaping or state of having escaped
avoidance of injury, harm, etc: a narrow escape
  1. a means or way of escape
  2. (as modifier): an escape route
a means of distraction or relief, esp from reality or boredom: angling provides an escape for many city dwellers
a gradual outflow; leakage; seepage
Also called escape valve, escape cock. a valve that releases air, steam, etc, above a certain pressure; relief valve or safety valve
a plant that was originally cultivated but is now growing wild
Derived Forms
escapable, adjective
escaper, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old Northern French escaper, from Vulgar Latin excappāre (unattested) to escape (literally: to remove one's cloak, hence free oneself), from ex-1 + Late Latin cappa cloak
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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Contemporary definitions for escape

a key on a computer keyboard which transmits a signal to cancel an operation and whose effect depends on the software or mode in which it is being used

Usage Note

computing's 21st Century Lexicon
Copyright © 2003-2014, LLC
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Word Origin and History for escape

c.1300, from Old North French escaper, Old French eschaper (12c., Modern French échapper), from Vulgar Latin *excappare, literally "get out of one's cape, leave a pursuer with just one's cape," from Latin ex- "out of" (see ex-) + Late Latin cappa "mantle" (see cap (n.)). Related: Escaped; escaping.


c.1400, from escape (v.); earlier eschap (c.1300). Mental/emotional sense is from 1853. Escape clause in the legal sense first recorded 1945.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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escape in Medicine

escape es·cape (ĭ-skāp')

  1. A gradual effusion from an enclosure; a leakage.

  2. A cardiological situation in which one pacemaker defaults or an atrioventricular conduction fails, and another pacemaker sets the heart's pace for one or more beats.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Idioms and Phrases with escape


In addition to the idiom beginning with escape also see: narrow escape
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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