Stockholm syndrome

noun Psychiatry.

an emotional attachment to a captor formed by a hostage as a result of continuous stress, dependence, and a need to cooperate for survival.

Origin of Stockholm syndrome

after an incident in Stockholm in 1973, during which a bank employee became romantically attached to a robber who held her hostage Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for stockholm syndrome

Stockholm syndrome


a psychological condition in which hostages or kidnap victims become sympathetic towards their captors

Word Origin for Stockholm syndrome

C20: after a group of hostages in Stockholm in 1973
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 stockholm syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome

1978, a psychologists' term; the name derives from the Aug. 23, 1973, violent armed robbery of Sveriges Kreditbank in Stockholm, Sweden, after which four bank employees were held hostage in a vault for more than five days. The hostages developed a dramatic attachment to their abuser, and a fear of would-be rescuers, that they could not explain. The city arose mid-13c. from a fishing village; the second element in the name is holm "island;" the first is either stäk "bay" or stock "stake, pole."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for stockholm syndrome

Stockholm syndrome

[ stŏkhōlm′, -hōm′ ]


A phenomenon in which a hostage begins to identify with and grow sympathetic to his or her captor.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.