the redemption of a prisoner, slave, or kidnapped person, of captured goods, etc., for a price.
the sum or price paid or demanded.
a means of deliverance or rescue from punishment for sin, especially the payment of a redemptive fine.

verb (used with object)

to redeem from captivity, bondage, detention, etc., by paying a demanded price.
to release or restore on receipt of a ransom.
to deliver or redeem from punishment for sin.

Origin of ransom

1150–1200; (noun) Middle English ransoun < Old French rançon < Late Latin redēmptiōn- (stem of redēmptiō) redemption; (v.) Middle English ransounen < Old French rançonner, derivative of rançon
Related formsran·som·er, nounun·ran·somed, adjective

Synonyms for ransom


[ran-suh m]


John Crowe [kroh] /kroʊ/, 1888–1974, U.S. poet, critic, and teacher.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ransom

Contemporary Examples of ransom

Historical Examples of ransom

British Dictionary definitions for ransom



the release of captured prisoners, property, etc, on payment of a stipulated price
the price demanded or stipulated for such a release
rescue or redemption of any kind
hold to ransom
  1. to keep (prisoners, property, etc) in confinement until payment for their release is made or received
  2. to attempt to force (a person or persons) to comply with one's demands
a king's ransom a very large amount of money or valuables

verb (tr)

to pay a stipulated price and so obtain the release of (prisoners, property, etc)
to set free (prisoners, property, etc) upon receiving the payment demanded
to redeem; rescueChrist ransomed men from sin
Derived Formsransomer, noun

Word Origin for ransom

C14: from Old French ransoun, from Latin redemptiō a buying back, redemption



John Crowe . 1888–1974, US poet and critic
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 ransom

c.1200, "sum paid for the release of a prisoner or captured man," from Old French ranson (Modern French rançon), earlier raenson "ransom, redemption," from Latin redemptionem (nominative redemptio) "a redeeming," from redimere (see redeem).

early 14c., from ransom (n.). Related: Ransomed; ransoming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with ransom


see king's ransom.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.