Definition of siege in English:



  • 1A military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling those inside to surrender.

    ‘Verdun had withstood a siege of ten weeks’
    [as modifier] ‘siege warfare’
    • ‘A violent episode from York's past will be brought back to life this Bank Holiday when the Civil War siege of the city is re-enacted.’
    • ‘In the American civil war the sieges of Vicksburg and Petersburg saw trench warfare on a localized scale, and the same was true of the siege of Port Arthur in the Russo-Japanese war.’
    • ‘This historical drama retells the 1835-36 Texas revolution surrounding the famous siege of the Alamo.’
    • ‘This also marks the introduction of siege warfare and the deliberate efforts to counter static defenses.’
    • ‘The seriousness of our project - to sneak into a town under a relentless military siege - began to sink in, and I shuddered.’
    • ‘Several historians of the 1569 Protestant siege on Poitiers provide detailed descriptions of the city's topography.’
    • ‘Such places, with their own aerial supply routes and security systems, could simultaneously withstand a siege and topple a government.’
    • ‘Most of the cities were already being filled with food and supplies for the siege, though it was slow and tedious work.’
    • ‘By 1216 the castle was sufficiently strong to withstand a siege by forces opposed to King John.’
    • ‘Stalingrad, besides being the turning-point of the war on the Eastern Front, was also a reminder that an ancient form of land warfare, the siege, was by no means obsolete.’
    • ‘When the assaults failed, Grant settled into conventional siege warfare.’
    • ‘Skipton Castle, dates back some 900 years, and withstood a three-year siege during the Civil War between 1643 and 1645.’
    • ‘Most contemporary commanders used their troops in a slow, expensive, attritional warfare based on sieges of selected fortified cities or fortresses.’
    • ‘After more than a month of siege warfare, Pemberton surrendered to Grant on 4 July 1863.’
    • ‘The Siege Museum is full of memorabilia and provides vivid portrayals of battles and conditions inside the town during the siege.’
    • ‘To capture a town through a siege one must, according to Philon, make proper use of machines such as catapults and other war engines.’
    • ‘The centre of the city was walled and, with its water and food supply enclosed, could have withstood a long siege.’
    • ‘The well was outside, and no one had thought to supply water before the siege.’
    • ‘‘We're doing our best to prepare our city for defense in case of siege,’ she said as I shot my own arrow.’
    • ‘Now all you need are the supplies to withstand the coming siege.’
    blockade, beleaguerment, encirclement
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1An operation in which a police or other force surround a building and cut off supplies, with the aim of forcing an armed person to surrender.
      ‘two cult members have died so far in the four-day siege’
      • ‘A man who held a woman against her will through a 12-hour armed police siege today faces a life sentence.’
      • ‘A man whose life fell apart after he sparked a dramatic armed police siege with a toy weapon said today: ‘Throw away your guns.’’
      • ‘A police siege of his house ended peacefully with his surrender to authorities.’
      • ‘I yearn for those days when everything was full of wonder and fun, when kids could play cowboys and Indians in the street with toy guns that did not cause an armed police siege.’
      • ‘Two people held hostage after a 24-hour drinking session ended in a police siege have spoken of their terror.’
  • 2rare A group of herons.

    ‘there is a siege of herons at the river’
    • ‘Through the sheeting rain, I picked out a siege of herons.’
    • ‘A siege of long-legged herons stand patiently in shallow water waiting for fish to pass within striking range.’
    • ‘A siege of herons flew up from the bayou across the road.’
    • ‘No one should miss the tiny island that is home to a siege of herons whose impressive wingspans are revealed when the majestic birds take flight.’
    • ‘Whoever saw a siege of herons? Except in a heronry, they are solitary birds.’


  • lay siege to

    • Conduct a siege of (a place)

      ‘government forces laid siege to the building’
      figurative ‘the press laid siege to her flat’
      • ‘The Iliad covers just a few weeks of the tenth year of the long period over which the Greek forces laid siege to the city of Troy.’
      • ‘The objective was to silence the forts so that minesweepers could clear the minefields to allow the fleet to force the Dardanelles and lay siege to Constantinople (now Istanbul).’
      • ‘The Takeda army that laid siege to Nagashino castle consisted of 15,000 men, of whom 12,000 took part in the subsequent battle.’
      • ‘They combined forces and actually laid siege to Aleppo itself.’
      • ‘In December 1880 the Boers rose in revolt, laying siege to isolated British garrisons.’
      • ‘True to form the press were preparing to lay siege to the two family homes.’
      • ‘A generation ago, mounting an expedition meant drafting a herd of porters, slogging loads of gear to a rocky base camp, and laying siege to a Himalayan peak.’
      • ‘After the battle the English expeditionary force landed and laid siege to Rounai.’
      • ‘Read Michael Crichton's Timeline and, on a misty day, it is easy to imagine medieval armies laying siege to these fortresses.’
      • ‘My parents told me that I really had to speak to the press, who were laying siege to the hospital.’
  • under siege

    • (of a place) undergoing a siege.

      ‘the fort had been under siege by guerrillas since June’
      figurative ‘we are under siege from budget cuts’
      • ‘At the time it felt like we were surrounded by an army, properly under siege.’
      • ‘Manstein believed three or four divisions could keep the fortress under siege.’
      • ‘The island had been under siege for several months by a fleet of pirate vessels, and the two had gone on a quest to solve their problem.’
      • ‘These women have lost loved ones, they face their daily fears and campaign under siege.’
      • ‘It is clear Helen has not been happy in Troy either - especially during the years Troy has been under siege by invading Greeks.’
      • ‘The one site that was not under siege was City Hall, where Seb Ommati was sitting down to a steak dinner with his ward and the mayor of the city.’
      • ‘Sometimes my parents got a little suspicious as to where I was disappearing every time our village was under siege.’
      • ‘But how could one hide the fact that their capital was under siege by an army of rebels?’
      • ‘As I have long suspected, Bellandor perished by his own hand when the city he helped defend was under siege.’
      • ‘Against his instructions, he elected to stay and defend the capital, Khartoum, which came under siege from the Mahdi in May 1884.’
      besieged, under siege, blockaded, surrounded, encircled, hemmed in, under attack
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Middle English: from Old French sege, from asegier besiege.