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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.
Origin of jail
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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for jailing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Thereupon follows the story of the capture and jailing of Finnegan and Company.

  • I'm not arresting people, jailing them, making them disappear.

    Little Brother

    Cory Doctorow
  • You could have rendered his people a much better one by telling the truth and 'jailing him,' as you say.

    Kitty's Conquest Charles King
  • What is a fine of a thousand dollars, and jailing for six months, to the liberty of a man?

  • The arrival of these men was always the signal for so-called riots, and wholesale clubbing, shooting and jailing of strikers.

  • Who but a Hapsburg caused the persecution and jailing of the revivalists who undertook the task of awakening the nation?

  • The jailing of a seducer offered a tangible recompense for the self-denial which he, as a non-seducer, practiced.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht
British Dictionary definitions for jailing


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 jailing



late 13c., gayhol, from Old North French gaiole and Old French jaole, both meaning "a cage, prison," from Medieval Latin gabiola, from Late Latin caveola, diminutive of Latin cavea "cage, enclosure, stall, coop" (see cave (n.)). Both forms carried into Middle English; now pronounced "jail" however it is spelled. Persistence of Norman-derived gaol (preferred in Britain) is "chiefly due to statutory and official tradition" [OED].



"to put in jail," c.1600, from jail (n.). Related: Jailed; jailing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for jailing



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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