prison

[priz-uh n]
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noun
  1. a building for the confinement of persons held while awaiting trial, persons sentenced after conviction, etc.
  2. state prison.
  3. any place of confinement or involuntary restraint.
  4. imprisonment.

Origin of prison

before 1150; Middle English prison, earlier prisun < Old French, variant of preson imprisonment, a prison < Latin pre(hē)nsiōn- (stem of prehēnsiō) a seizure, arrest, equivalent to prehēns(us) (past participle of prehendere to seize) + -iōn- -ion; doublet of prehension
Related formspris·on·like, adjectivepost·pris·on, adjective
Can be confusedjail prison
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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British Dictionary definitions for prison

prison

noun
  1. a public building used to house convicted criminals and accused persons remanded in custody and awaiting trialSee also jail, penitentiary, reformatory
  2. any place of confinement or seeming confinement

Word Origin for prison

C12: from Old French prisun, from Latin prēnsiō a capturing, from prehendere to lay hold of
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 prison
n.

early 12c., from Old French prisoun "captivity, imprisonment; prison; prisoner, captive" (11c., Modern French prison), altered (by influence of pris "taken;" see prize (n.2)) from earlier preson, from Vulgar Latin *presionem, from Latin prensionem (nominative prensio), shortening of prehensionem (nominative *prehensio) "a taking," noun of action from past participle stem of prehendere "to take" (see prehensile). "Captivity," hence by extension "a place for captives," the main modern sense.

v.

"to imprison," early 14c., from prison (n.) or Old French prisoner (v.). Related: Prisoned; prisoning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper