[ uh-rest ]
/ əˈrɛst /
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See synonyms for: arrest / arrested / arresting on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
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Idioms about arrest

    under arrest, in custody of the police or other legal authorities: They placed the suspect under arrest at the scene of the crime.

Origin of arrest

1275–1325; (v.) Middle English aresten<Anglo-French, Middle French arester,<Vulgar Latin *arrestāre to stop (see ar-, rest2); (noun) Middle English arest(e) <Anglo-French, Old French, noun derivative of v.

synonym study for arrest

3. See stop.


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does arrest mean?

To arrest someone is to seize them or take them into custody with authority.

Related to that, an arrest is the act of police or other law enforcement officials detaining someone suspected of committing a crime when there is probable cause.

Arrest can also more generally mean to attract and engage, such as with attention or sight. For example, a loud clap of thunder might arrest your attention for a moment, if you weren’t expecting it.

Arrest also means to slow or stop, such as with progress or growth. You might, for example, arrest the growth of a plant by keeping it in the dark while continuing to water it. Such an arrest could lead the plant to die.

Example: You are under arrest for conspiracy to commit grand theft auto.

Where does arrest come from?

The first records of the term arrest come from around the 1200s. It comes from the Vulgar Latin arrestāre, meaning “to stop.” Often arresting someone or something is done in an effort to stop them from doing something or from running away.

In medicine, to arrest is to control or stop the progress, such as of a disease. The disease isn’t cured but it won’t get any worse if doctors can arrest it. Sometimes arrest is also used in reference to parts of the body stopping, such as cardiac arrest, which means your heart stops beating.

You might also hear about arrested development, which is development that has been stopped before it has been completed. A person with a physical arrested development is someone whose body did not fully grow, or develop, completely.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to arrest?

  • arrestable (adjective)
  • postarrest (adjective)
  • prearrest (verb)
  • rearrest (verb)
  • unarrestable (adjective)

What are some synonyms for arrest?

What are some words that share a root or word element with arrest

What are some words that often get used in discussing arrest?

How is arrest used in real life?

Arrest is a common word usually used in relation to criminal justice but also used in the sciences.


Try using arrest!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for arrest?

A. free
B. capture
C. secure
D. seize

How to use arrest in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for arrest

/ (əˈrɛst) /

verb (tr)

Word Origin for arrest

C14: from Old French arester, from Vulgar Latin arrestāre (unattested), from Latin ad at, to + restāre to stand firm, stop
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with arrest


see under arrest.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.