noun, verb (used with object) British.

Related formsgaol·er, nounun·der·gaol·er, noun




a prison, especially one for the detention of persons awaiting trial or convicted of minor offenses.

verb (used with object)

to take into or hold in lawful custody; imprison.
Also British, gaol.

Origin of jail

1225–75; Middle English gaiole, jaiole, jaile < Old North French gaiole, Old French jaiole cage < Vulgar Latin *gaviola, variant of *caveola, diminutive of Latin cavea cage; see -ole1
Related formsjail·a·ble, adjectivejail·less, adjectivejail·like, adjectivenon·jail·a·ble, adjectivere·jail, verb (used with object)un·jailed, adjective
Can be confusedjail prison Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gaoled

Historical Examples of gaoled

  • "I would not have you gaoled, which is what will happen if you disobey the Duke's magnificence," said she.

    The Strolling Saint

    Raphael Sabatini

  • My pleasure is to tell you that you are very likely to be gaoled for this, all the pack of you.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • The little temple in which I was gaoled had been robbed and despoiled of all its furnishments.

    The Lost Continent

    C. J. Cutcliffe Hyne

  • Do not tell me where she is gaoled, and I shall not dare to ask.

    The Lost Continent

    C. J. Cutcliffe Hyne

  • The jurors would not convict him, so were gaoled and fined by the justices.

British Dictionary definitions for gaoled


noun, verb

British a variant spelling of jail
Derived Formsgaoler, noun




a place for the confinement of persons convicted and sentenced to imprisonment or of persons awaiting trial to whom bail is not granted
get out of jail or get out of jail free informal to get out of a difficult situation


(tr) to confine in prison
Derived Formsjailless or gaolless, adjectivejail-like or gaol-like, adjective

Word Origin for jail

C13: from Old French jaiole cage, from Vulgar Latin caveola (unattested), from Latin cavea enclosure; see cage : the two spellings derive from the forms of the word that developed in two different areas of France, and the spelling gaol represents a pronunciation in use until the 17th century
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 gaoled


see jail, you tea-sodden football hooligan.



late 13c., gayhol, from Old North French gaiole and Old French jaole, both meaning "a cage, prison," from Medieval Latin gabiola, from Late Latin caveola, diminutive of Latin cavea "cage, enclosure, stall, coop" (see cave (n.)). Both forms carried into Middle English; now pronounced "jail" however it is spelled. Persistence of Norman-derived gaol (preferred in Britain) is "chiefly due to statutory and official tradition" [OED].



"to put in jail," c.1600, from jail (n.). Related: Jailed; jailing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper