from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person held by one party in a conflict as security that specified terms will be met by the opposing party.
  • n. One that serves as security against an implied threat: superpowers held hostage to each other by their nuclear arsenals.
  • n. One that is manipulated by the demands of another: "National policies cannot be made hostage to another country” ( Alan D. Romberg).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person given as a pledge or security for the performance of the conditions of a treaty or stipulations of any kind, on the performance of which the person is to be released.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A person given as a pledge or security for the performance of the conditions of a treaty or stipulations of any kind, on the performance of which the person is to be released.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To give as a hostage.
  • n. A person given or held as a pledge of or security for the performance of certain stipulations, as those of a treaty, or the satisfaction of certain demands.
  • n. A thing given as a pledge.
  • n. An inn; a lodging.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a prisoner who is held by one party to insure that another party will meet specified terms


Middle English, from Old French, probably from host, guest, host; see host1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French hostage (French: otage, from hoste or Late Latin obsidanus.) (Wiktionary)


  • And U.S. troops chasing down insurgents in Falluja say they have found what they call a hostage slaughterhouse.

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  • Before I talk about the lines Obama quoted, however (I will have more to say about Sa'di and the rest of his work in another post) I want to acknowledge the importance of the message itself, not just because he sent it-and if you don't know much about US-Iranian relations beyond the facts of what we called the hostage crisis and the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution, you might not realize just how significant the simple fact of sending such a message is-but also because of

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  • The Post's editorial board on Sunday blasted Landrieu's hold on Lew, stating that holding his nomination "hostage is not the right way to express that concern."

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  • Kevin Blanco, meanwhile, having taken his rec pen hostage, is perched on top of that basketball hoop with an air of eremitic remoteness.

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  • The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three (1974) - The responsibilities of the New York City Transit police are considerable, especially when a group of criminals takes a subway train hostage between stations.

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  • John McCain was defined as a hostage of right-wing extremists by the time votes were cast in 2008; many centrist voters claimed that they would have voted for Mr. McCain "if only he had been the moderate John McCain of the 2000 primary campaign."

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  • But have you seen an enormous rise in hostage taking?

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  • I can't really immagine Sienna with anyone whose names isn't Hawke, but I suppose it will be good for her to have some experience before Hawke .. mmmmm ... and it will be interesting read about Hawke reaction at this situation. then, I must add that as soon as you introduced Amara, (in hostage to pleasure), I was captivated by her. and i loved to rad about her interaction with Mercy in this book.

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  • The act of shooting a man holding others hostage is good.

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  • The use in hostage situations is not unprecedented however.

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