[ kap-tiv ]
See synonyms for captive on
  1. a prisoner.

  2. a person who is enslaved or dominated: He is the captive of his own fears.

  1. made or held prisoner, especially in war: captive troops.

  2. kept in confinement or restraint: captive animals.

  1. enslaved by love, beauty, etc.; captivated: her captive beau.

  2. of or relating to a captive.

  3. managed as an affiliate or subsidiary of a corporation and operated almost exclusively for the use or needs of the parent corporation rather than independently for the general public: a captive shop; a captive mine.

Origin of captive

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English or directly from Middle French, from Latin captīvus, equivalent to capt(us) “taken” (past participle of capere “to take”) + -īvus adjective suffix (see -ive)

Other words from captive

  • non·cap·tive, adjective
  • pseu·do·cap·tive, adjective

Words Nearby captive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use captive in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for captive


/ (ˈkæptɪv) /

  1. a person or animal that is confined or restrained, esp a prisoner of war

  2. a person whose behaviour is dominated by some emotion: a captive of love

  1. held as prisoner

  2. held under restriction or control; confined: captive water held behind a dam

  1. captivated; enraptured

  2. unable by circumstances to avoid speeches, advertisements, etc (esp in the phrase captive audience)

Origin of captive

C14: from Latin captīvus, from capere to take

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