Definition of prisoner in English:



  • 1A person legally committed to prison as a punishment for a crime or while awaiting trial.

    ‘a prisoner serving a life sentence’
    • ‘Prisoners can also be victims of crime, committed by other prisoners, guards, or the state.’
    • ‘If that proves to be the case the magistrate commits the prisoner or prisoners as happened in the present case.’
    • ‘Certainly, the cost to society of convicted prisoners who commit further crimes as soon as they are released is a high one.’
    • ‘Whether a prisoner awaiting execution has the right to have a baby, is a point of dispute in the legal field.’
    • ‘Her fear is that of a prisoner, awaiting execution, in the merciless sunlight of an American dream.’
    • ‘As of January this year, death row contained 3,697 prisoners awaiting execution.’
    • ‘A third of all inmates are remand prisoners who are awaiting trial or sentencing.’
    • ‘The guards were impressed with the quiet prisoner who accepted his punishment without insubordination.’
    • ‘At the time of the offences the appellant was either in custody on remand or as a serving prisoner.’
    • ‘There was no need for another trial as the prisoners had already been tried and sentenced in an open court.’
    • ‘And one in six prisoners are on remand-people awaiting trial who have been convicted of no crime.’
    • ‘The conflict was concluded by the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, by which time Charles was a prisoner awaiting trial.’
    • ‘Nearly four thousand prisoners currently await their fate on death row.’
    • ‘The cells are used to hold prisoners awaiting trial, or following conviction, pending transfer to a main prison.’
    • ‘The order is taken to be a warrant committing the prisoner into custody for the Corrective Services Act.’
    • ‘In August 2001, he began a relationship with a woman who was a serving prisoner.’
    • ‘At trial, the prisoners had the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention.’
    • ‘The American Bar Association has been fiercely critical of the way that prisoners have been treated legally.’
    • ‘In his view, the conduct of the prisoners in these Russian trials is in full accord with the Russian character.’
    • ‘A habeas corpus writ requires the release of a prisoner held without trial or lawful charge.’
    convict, inmate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person captured and kept confined by an enemy or criminal.
      ‘she may have been held prisoner before being killed’
      ‘200 rebels were taken prisoner’
      • ‘He was captured by the Chinese Communist Forces and, separated from the other Royal Marines, was taken prisoner.’
      • ‘It was only in the spring of 1942 that the SS began to send more prisoners into armaments work.’
      • ‘Never in the history of past wars has any combatant done that to enemy prisoners.’
      • ‘After conquering Troy, you will need to rescue some villagers that have been taken prisoner by an unknown enemy.’
      • ‘Everybody knew about Hitler's order that no commandos should be taken prisoner.’
      • ‘The men were taken prisoner and taken to a Dutch army barracks in Batavia, the capital city of Java.’
      • ‘He had allowed his dear friend, his sister in Christ, to be taken prisoner by their enemies.’
      • ‘Being taken prisoner, they should resist it and do nothing that would harm their own country.’
      • ‘Parmentier, a French army officer during the Seven Years War, was taken prisoner and kept in detention in Hamburg.’
      • ‘The International Red Cross reported that a Macedonian soldier held prisoner was being treated properly.’
      • ‘Taken prisoner in the second battle of St Albans, he was freed after Edward IV's victory at Towton.’
      • ‘In the Second World War he served in the tank corps, was taken prisoner by the Germans, escaped, and worked for the Resistance.’
      • ‘Taken prisoner, he was jailed and as a POW served time in Wakefield and Frongoch prisons.’
      • ‘These boys were taken prisoner and survived the war, but thousands more were less fortunate.’
      • ‘From time to time there would be executions of guerillas taken prisoner by government forces.’
      • ‘A few days later Churchill was himself taken prisoner when the armoured train that he was travelling on was ambushed at Chieveley.’
      • ‘Many of those held at the huge Shibarghan jail were taken prisoner after the fall of Kunduz.’
      • ‘In 1359 he was in France with Edward III's invading army, was taken prisoner, and ransomed.’
      • ‘Later in the war he was taken prisoner by the Germans while working on a reconnaissance mission in the Greek islands.’
      • ‘He was taken prisoner by the Khmer Rouge while working in Cambodia when on the payroll of HALO.’
      prisoner of war, pow
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A person who is or feels confined or trapped by a situation.
      ‘he's become a prisoner of the publicity he's generated’
      • ‘I am a virtual prisoner in my own home from April until mid October.’
      • ‘He was a suffering prisoner of emotions trapped in a cage, but yet he was not.’
      • ‘I am a disabled driver and often feel a prisoner in my own home.’
      • ‘Residents claim faulty street lights have made them virtual prisoners in their own homes.’
      • ‘She felt trapped, like a prisoner trapped in a jail cell with no luck of escaping.’


  • take no prisoners

    • Be ruthlessly aggressive or uncompromising in the pursuit of one's objectives.

      ‘they will be taking no prisoners tonight against bitter rivals Wigan’
      • ‘The German attack was led by a crack SS unit that took no prisoners.’
      • ‘After all, this is a man who took no prisoners as a player, yet as a coach seems to be working side by side with men who never seem to be out of the dock, one way or the other.’
      • ‘We took no prisoners and hard things were said on both sides.’
      • ‘When asked if there's a need to name and shame celebs who wear fur, the ‘Baywatch’ babe took no prisoners.’
      • ‘It was not the best, but some of the pitches were bad and referees were like some of the players - they took no prisoners.’
      • ‘They kicked a fair number of wides but then they were under pressure by a tigerish St Peters back line, who took no prisoners.’
      • ‘Harper took no prisoners in his Progressive Conservative takeover.’
      • ‘He was a mighty, and very aggressive warrior who took no prisoners in war.’
      • ‘As far back as the 1930s the fashion industry took no prisoners.’
      • ‘Football's about tough uncompromising individuals, who bleed real blood, take no prisoners and fight to the very end, yeah?’


Late Middle English: from Old French prisonier, from prison (see prison).