Definition of confiscate in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Take or seize (someone's property) with authority.

    ‘the guards confiscated his camera’
    • ‘It was later confiscated by suspicious guards and, phlegmatically, he simply started all over again.’
    • ‘To increase pressure on the strikers guards began confiscating the inmates' snack foods, and the prison sent a medical officer around to check daily on every hunger striker.’
    • ‘Authorities also began confiscating firearms from civilians.’
    • ‘There will be new powers to fine noisy neighbours £100 and confiscate stereo equipment.’
    • ‘The order, once implemented, would give officers powers to stop someone drinking in a public place and to confiscate any alcohol.’
    • ‘Anyone found guilty in court of operating a pirate radio station could find all their equipment and records being confiscated.’
    • ‘He showed them some cannabis claiming he had confiscated it from others.’
    • ‘Police would be called if a need to confiscate equipment arose.’
    • ‘But they found all this electrical equipment and they confiscated the lot of it.’
    • ‘It was the first time the authorities had confiscated vessels in their battle to clamp down on illegal fishing.’
    • ‘All I know is that a gun was confiscated and that the appropriate steps have been taken.’
    • ‘This is considered such a serious crime that, if caught, the law has the authority to confiscate the vehicle.’
    • ‘Police raided the headquarters of a group co-ordinating the protests, arresting dozens of activists and confiscating equipment.’
    • ‘If you violate the country's camera use rules, they may confiscate your equipment and we have absolutely no recourse.’
    • ‘I took a photo, to show you the unbelievable filth, but they confiscated my camera.’
    • ‘Where appropriate they also confiscate alcohol from under age drinkers.’
    • ‘They had licenced security guards at the gates confiscating any alcohol or drugs found upon entry (yes, they searched every car on the way in).’
    • ‘More computer equipment was confiscated from me, and again was not returned until six months later.’
    • ‘This law is seldom enforced, but the next morning the authorities agreed to confiscate our little chimpanzee.’
    • ‘They will have no powers of arrest, but will be able to issue fixed penalties and confiscate alcohol.’
    impound, seize, commandeer, requisition, appropriate, expropriate, take possession of, sequester, sequestrate, take away, take over, take, annex
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Take (a possession, especially land) as a penalty and give it to the public treasury.
      ‘the government confiscated his property’
      • ‘Approved were 15 changes to the Constitution, most notably a new clause that the nation would ‘respect and ensure human rights’ and lines that say the government must compensate people for property it confiscates in the public interest.’
      • ‘Lands confiscated from the Church and the émigrés and then sold on would not be returned to their original owners.’
      • ‘Many lands were confiscated and many Royalists were rewarded for their loyalty to the crown.’
      • ‘There could be no question of returning any of the church lands confiscated in 1790 and since sold off.’
      • ‘Three million acres of Maori land were confiscated, some restored, but the sale and loss of Maori territory continued.’
      • ‘Of course, the people of Parihaka at the time did not raise an arm, yet still the land was confiscated.’
      • ‘He accused these ‘tyrants’ of having robbed the Irish people for centuries by confiscating their lands, destroying their homesteads, and sentencing millions to emigration or death by starvation.’
      • ‘Schools were closed, land was confiscated and obstacles to new efforts were set in place.’
      • ‘It is, rather, an effort at confiscating even more of the land value for the State, directly or indirectly.’
      • ‘There was of course a danger that the serfowners might confiscate land from the peasants, forcing all their holdings down to the minimum.’
      • ‘Their houses continued to be destroyed by bulldozers and their land confiscated.’
      • ‘They could destroy or confiscate property, without compensation.’
      • ‘Such property should be confiscated and used for public purposes or auctioned publicly.’
      • ‘Did he have the right to confiscate Electoral land?’
      • ‘All unused land would be confiscated by the State, and the banks should be immediately nationalised.’
      • ‘As part of the deal, the city would even confiscate land from private owners so that the Rangers owners could engage in real estate speculation.’
      • ‘Protesters called upon the government to confiscate its property.’
      • ‘Thus, we don't jail people without trial or confiscate their property without a hearing.’
      • ‘He says only that he does not intend to expand the building lines or confiscate new land for settlements.’
      • ‘At one time all land was Maori land, save for the land that was confiscated, and we are having a debate about that.’


Mid 16th century: from Latin confiscat- ‘put away in a chest, consigned to the public treasury’, from the verb confiscare, based on con- ‘together’ + fiscus ‘chest, treasury’.