• synonyms


[verb in-kahr-suh-reyt; adjective in-kahr-ser-it, -suh-reyt]
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verb (used with object), in·car·cer·at·ed, in·car·cer·at·ing.
  1. to imprison; confine.
  2. to enclose; constrict closely.
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  1. imprisoned.
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Origin of incarcerate

1520–30; < Medieval Latin incarcerātus past participle of incarcerāre to imprison, equivalent to in- in-2 + carcer prison + -ātus -ate1
Related formsin·car·cer·a·tion, nounin·car·cer·a·tive, adjectivein·car·cer·a·tor, nounun·in·car·cer·at·ed, adjective


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1. jail, immure, intern.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for incarcerate

Historical Examples

  • If she attempts to incarcerate you, she might be successful.

    The "Genius"

    Theodore Dreiser

  • But we could not incarcerate George Prince for being an eavesdropper.

  • "Before you drive me away I will incarcerate you," replied this worthy man.

  • A magistrate gave orders to the constables to arrest and incarcerate the rest of the Spanish Negroes.

  • "If ever I do reach such a state, I hope the family will incarcerate me," rejoined Nan.

    The Four Corners in Japan

    Amy Ella Blanchard

British Dictionary definitions for incarcerate


  1. (tr) to confine or imprison
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Derived Formsincarceration, nounincarcerator, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Medieval Latin incarcerāre, from Latin in- ² + carcer prison
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 incarcerate


1550s, a back-formation from incarceration, or else from Medieval Latin incarceratus, past participle of incarcerare "to imprison" (see incarceration). Related: Incarcerated; incarcerating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper