[ verb kon-fuh-skeyt; adjective kuh n-fis-kit ]
/ verb ˈkɒn fəˌskeɪt; adjective kənˈfɪs kɪt /

verb (used with object), con·fis·cat·ed, con·fis·cat·ing.

to seize as forfeited to the public domain; appropriate, by way of penalty, for public use.
to seize by or as if by authority; appropriate summarily: The border guards confiscated our movie cameras.


seized or appropriated, as for public use.

Origin of confiscate

1525–35; < Latin confiscātus (past participle of confiscāre to seize for the public treasury), equivalent to con- con- + fisc(us) basket, moneybag, public treasury (see fiscal) + -ātus -ate1
Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for confiscate


/ (ˈkɒnfɪˌskeɪt) /

verb (tr)

to seize (property), esp for public use and esp by way of a penalty


seized or confiscated; forfeit
having lost or been deprived of property through confiscation
Derived Formsconfiscation, nounconfiscator, noun

Word Origin for confiscate

C16: from Latin confiscāre to seize for the public treasury, from fiscus basket, treasury
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 confiscate



1550s, originally, "to appropriate for the treasury," from Latin confiscatus, past participle of confiscare, from com- "together" (see com-) + fiscus "public treasury," literally "money basket" (see fiscal). Related: Confiscated; confiscating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper