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


Origin of captive

1300–50; Middle English (< Middle French) < Latin captīvus, equivalent to capt(us) taken (past participle of capere to take) + -īvus -ive
Related formsnon·cap·tive, adjectivepseu·do·cap·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for captive

Contemporary Examples of captive

Historical Examples of captive

  • Shortly after, the captive Duke was one morning found weeping.

  • "Evidently they fell out about the possession of the captive," suggested von Horn.

    The Monster Men

    Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • There were yet other rude experiences in store for the captive.

    Johnny Bear

    E. T. Seton

  • It reminds me, a captive by the waters of Babylon, that God is ever with the friendless.

    Leila, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • In one of these toads and adders were the companions of the captive.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

British Dictionary definitions for captive



a person or animal that is confined or restrained, esp a prisoner of war
a person whose behaviour is dominated by some emotiona captive of love


held as prisoner
held under restriction or control; confinedcaptive water held behind a dam
captivated; enraptured
unable by circumstances to avoid speeches, advertisements, etc (esp in the phrase captive audience)

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for captive

late 14c., "imprisoned, enslaved," from Latin captivus "caught, taken prisoner," from captus, past participle of capere "to take, hold, seize" (see capable). As a noun from c.1400; an Old English noun was hæftling, from hæft "taken, seized."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper