[ jeyl ]
See synonyms for: jailjailedjailing on Thesaurus.com

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

verb (used with object)
  1. to take into or hold in lawful custody; imprison.

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 caveacage; see -ole1
  • Also British, gaol .

Other words from jail

  • jail·a·ble, adjective
  • jailless, adjective
  • jaillike, adjective
  • non·jail·a·ble, adjective
  • re·jail, verb (used with object)
  • un·jailed, adjective

Words that may be confused with jail

Words Nearby jail

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use jail in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for jail



/ (dʒeɪl) /

  1. a place for the confinement of persons convicted and sentenced to imprisonment or of persons awaiting trial to whom bail is not granted

  2. get out of jail or get out of jail free informal to get out of a difficult situation

  1. (tr) to confine in prison

Origin of 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

Derived forms of jail

  • jailless or gaolless, adjective
  • jail-like or gaol-like, adjective

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