captive audience

Listeners or onlookers who have no choice but to attend. For example, It's a required course and, knowing he has a captive audience, the professor rambles on endlessly. This expression, first recorded in 1902, uses captive in the sense of “unable to escape.”


Nearby words

  1. captious,
  2. captiously,
  3. captivate,
  4. captivating,
  5. captive,
  6. captive market,
  7. captivity,
  8. captopril,
  9. captor,
  10. capture

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