Definition of hold someone to ransom in English:

hold someone to ransom


  • 1Hold someone captive and demand payment for their release.

    • ‘‘I think they are holding their child to ransom,’ she said.’
    • ‘A Yorkshire businessman tried to hold his own family to ransom after claiming he had been kidnapped from his kebab shop.’
    • ‘A group of shipwrecked passengers are captured and held for ransom by an African king, Talou VII.’
    • ‘They will kidnap his wealthy dad and hold him to ransom.’
    • ‘Some of them have recently made life difficult for the British servicemen there, by abducting 11 of their number and effectively holding them to ransom.’
    • ‘Earlier this month, another man was arrested for planning to kidnap a Barcelona player so he could hold him to ransom to pay off his business debt.’
    • ‘And people who are worth something are more likely to be kidnapped and held for large ransoms.’
    kidnap, carry off, seize, capture, run away with, run off with, make off with, spirit away, hold hostage, hold to ransom, hijack
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    1. 1.1 Demand concessions from a person or organization by threatening damaging action.
      ‘the company would be powerful enough to hold governments to ransom’
      • ‘He also assured the president the organisation had no intention of holding the government to ransom with threats of violence.’
      • ‘‘Our hands are tied because insurance companies are holding us to ransom and the State Government needs to do something about it,’ Mr Giudice said.’
      • ‘In other words, they're going back on their previous deal, and once again threatening to hold the country to ransom.’
      • ‘Firstly it would free us from the oil barons who are holding us to ransom.’
      • ‘He also suggested the company had been held to ransom by its creditor banks.’
      • ‘Head of Finance Eamonn O Sullivan said he did not believe that a situation would arise where the council would be held to ransom by the health board.’
      • ‘The universities are held to ransom by the threat that a failure to boost state school intake will mean financial penalties.’
      • ‘Lord Jacobs, who has been campaigning for three years to get drugs prices down, suggests that pharmaceutical companies are holding the government to ransom by threatening to withdraw their research from the UK.’
      • ‘Both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are clear - this government will not be held to ransom.’
      • ‘They effectively held the company to ransom by threatening ‘denial of service’ at peak times.’
      extort money from, threaten, hold to ransom, milk, bleed
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