Definition of escape in US English:



  • 1no object Break free from confinement or control.

    ‘two burglars have just escaped from prison’
    • ‘Because of its invasive nature, it often becomes a pest within an ornamental garden and readily escapes.’
    • ‘He was hurt in the scuffle but managed to escape into an area of woodland.’
    • ‘If it hadn't been for the collar, she could easily have broken free and escaped.’
    • ‘She told police the attacker tied her up but that she managed to struggle free and escape into the bush.’
    • ‘One day when Chris was at work and the kids were at school, two convicts who had escaped from jail broke into the Rodgers home in an attempt to hide from the police.’
    • ‘What will happen when one of these fish escapes into the wild?’
    • ‘The man, a convict who has escaped from a prison ship, scares Pip into stealing him some food and a file to grind away his leg shackle.’
    • ‘I followed silently behind the two guards, debating within my mind whether to break free and escape, or stay near to him.’
    • ‘If ever I needed to escape into fantasy fiction that time is now.’
    • ‘Once again, Roger Black, a convicted killer who escaped from an Iowa prison, is on the loose.’
    • ‘He eventually left by a fire door, triggering an automatic alarm, but had escaped by the time police arrived.’
    • ‘And of course if you're not particularly happy when you're a child, being able to escape into a book is a wonderful thing.’
    • ‘In 1772 Britain declared that any escaped slave who came to Britain would automatically become free.’
    • ‘Hundreds of prisoners have been given the opportunity to escape into a world of learning thanks to a Horwich-based training specialist.’
    • ‘However, on a drab and grey day like this, the imagination is a better place than many others to escape into.’
    • ‘After ten minutes, the boy managed to break free and escape, although the man initially gave chase.’
    • ‘She sought solitude and tried to escape into daydreaming.’
    • ‘He said pollen would not escape into the local environment because sugar beet did not flower until after it had been harvested.’
    • ‘Living in the Yorkshire Dales, it is still just possible to escape into a world of peace and tranquillity.’
    • ‘Maybe the news makes everyday life too depressing, and we want to escape into the fantasies of childhood play-acting.’
    • ‘The temptation is enormous to escape into fantasy, or close our eyes and pretend nothing has changed.’
    • ‘Two men arrested on suspicion of violent disorder are currently in custody along with a woman arrested on suspicion of harbouring escaped prisoners.’
    get away, get out, run away, run off, break out, break free, get free, break loose, make a break for it, bolt, clear out, flee, fly, take flight, make off, take off, decamp, abscond, take to one's heels, make a escape, make one's escape, make good one's escape, make a getaway, make one's getaway, beat a retreat, beat a hasty retreat, show a clean pair of heels, run for it, make a run for it
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Elude or get free from (someone)
      ‘he drove along I-84 to escape the police’
      • ‘Sacrificing the other members of the gang would be no problem if he and his brother escaped a police trap.’
      • ‘Police believe she was escaping the abductor when she fell into the path of a passing car.’
      • ‘So far he had escaped the police, the SAS and the army so many times he had lost count.’
      • ‘A boy of 15 riding a stolen moped crashed and died while trying to escape a police car, an inquest heard yesterday.’
      • ‘If you were escaping the police would you ask for the charge sheet and a copy of your statement as you absconded?’
      • ‘It then swerved between parked cars as it tried to escape a pursuing police car.’
      • ‘Many of the villages are located in the Troodos Mountains, which is where Cypriots go to escape the maddening crowds along the coast.’
      • ‘Unrest was triggered by the deaths of two teenagers electrocuted in a power substation where they hid to escape police.’
      • ‘A driver who raced through Lancaster and caused a crash to escape police has been jailed for 15 months and banned from driving for two years.’
      • ‘A banned driver drove his car dangerously down St Peters Way and then demolished a lamp post as he tried to escape police.’
      • ‘A teenage motorist from Trowbridge who smashed into another car as he tried to escape police has been jailed for a year.’
      • ‘A serial car thief drove through a town centre at speeds of up to 70 mph to escape police.’
      • ‘After escaping the police, he had run along the roofs of the buildings and come to the end of the block.’
      • ‘On the second occasion, she pleaded with paramedics at midnight to call the police because she wanted to be locked up and escape a man she claimed was after her.’
      • ‘He had tried to escape the police by hiding in a doorway in Ship Street, but was found after back-up had been called for.’
      • ‘A 19-year-old who escaped police still wearing the handcuffs used to detain him has been brought to justice.’
      • ‘Take your car or two-wheeler but park it 200 meters away from the school to escape the traffic police.’
      • ‘There, before me, was my means of escaping the police, who were surely chasing me by now.’
      get away from, escape from, elude, avoid, dodge, leave behind, shake off, fend off, keep at arm's length, keep out of someone's way, steer clear of, give someone a wide berth
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Succeed in avoiding or eluding something dangerous, unpleasant, or undesirable.
      ‘the driver escaped with a broken knee’
      with object ‘a baby boy narrowly escaped death’
      • ‘A family who narrowly escaped with their lives after their home went up in flames have been dealt a second blow after burglars broke into the damaged house and stole hundreds of pounds worth of goods.’
      • ‘The rest of those in the car escaped with minor cuts and bruises.’
      • ‘A Colchester couple and their nine-year-old son narrowly escaped with their lives after the tsunami hit their beachfront apartment in Sri Lanka.’
      • ‘Even West Swindon's police station hasn't escaped the epidemic with the messy scrawl appearing all over it.’
      • ‘Because they are so young, they are likely to escape prosecution, but police have agreed to hand over their names and addresses to bus bosses.’
      • ‘Give your children the basics on how to avoid and escape potentially dangerous situations.’
      • ‘A man narrowly escaped with his life after crashing into the back of a lorry at around 11.45 pm.’
      • ‘The bus driver escaped injury but police warned the attack could have had serious consequences.’
      • ‘The 17-year-old driver escaped with cuts and bruises.’
      • ‘His death comes less than a fortnight after another employee of the company escaped with minor injuries after also being shot at while driving his car in the city.’
      • ‘This three-month old baby escaped with a fractured wrist, but is now an orphan as both parents were killed.’
      • ‘Last year, two North Yorkshire Police officers escaped speeding charges in neighbouring Cleveland because of a technicality.’
      • ‘The lorry driver escaped with minor injuries after his vehicle came to rest on its side facing back south after hitting the stationary car.’
      • ‘Elsewhere, police and civilians escaped injury in a failed grenade attack on a police station on the border.’
      • ‘A seven-year-old boy miraculously escaped with only slight bruising and cuts after a brick thrown through a bus window hit him in the face.’
      • ‘A police officer escaped a bizarre accident with only minor injuries on Monday when a Port Authority crane overturned and smashed the boat he was in.’
      • ‘As it was, the boy escaped with a couple of bruises.’
      • ‘An elk jumped through his family's downstairs window, crashing into the kid's bed, but the toddler escaped with just a scratched cheek.’
      • ‘Shots were fired and Tony narrowly escaped with his life.’
      • ‘His friend, Neil, escaped with cuts and bruises in the assault.’
      avoid, evade, dodge, elude, miss, cheat, trick, sidestep, circumvent, skirt, keep out of the way of, bypass, shun, steer clear of, shirk
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 (of a gas, liquid, or heat) leak from a container.
      • ‘Because the heat escapes through the roof or windows, many home owners invest in insulation, probably made from polluting petrochemicals.’
      • ‘Returning to the house, I realised that leaving the front door wide open was probably a mistake, as a lot of heat was escaping from the kitchen.’
      • ‘Each time an exhaust valve in the engine opens, a pressure wave of hot gases escapes from the cylinder and travels down the exhaust system.’
      • ‘Ammonia escapes into the atmosphere during manure storage and spraying.’
      • ‘The stream of superheated water escaping from the fissure was suddenly growing larger and was now headed straight for them.’
      • ‘If these gases escaped directly out of the engine, the noise generated would be tremendous.’
      • ‘If rings are too loose, liquid may escape from jars during processing, and seals may fail.’
      • ‘The company admitted allowing the potentially deadly chemical percholoroethylene to escape into the river.’
      • ‘He was found alongside the body of his girlfriend; both had been poisoned by carbon monoxide gas escaping from the apartment's oven.’
      • ‘Their home was destroyed as they slept after gas escaped from a mains pipe into the foundations of their house and ignited.’
      • ‘If there are any leaks in the system, radon gas will escape and be detected because of the radiation it emits.’
      • ‘There is an undefined hiss like air escaping but right now that is it.’
      • ‘This is because the gas can slowly escape through the pores of the plastic bottle.’
      • ‘If a lot of water's escaping, re-solder the joint; smaller leaks can be sealed off with plumber's tape.’
      • ‘The low-tech way to protect against ice is to float a ball to keep an air hole open, letting noxious gases escape.’
      • ‘Gas had escaped from an underground main into the foundations of the bungalow, forming an explosive cloud.’
      • ‘Do not touch electrical switches: turning a light on or off can ignite escaping gas.’
      • ‘It is an enclosed box from which hazardous gases cannot escape.’
      • ‘Gas was escaping at the house next door and there was a serious danger to life, the court heard.’
      • ‘Pale, grey gas escaped in a thin cloud from a minor vent on the side of the small craft.’
      leak, leak out, spill, spill out, seep, seep out, ooze, ooze out, exude, discharge, emanate, issue, flow, flow out, pour, pour out, gush, gush out, drip, drain, bleed
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4with object (of words or sounds) issue involuntarily or inadvertently from (someone or their lips)
      ‘a sob escaped her lips’
      • ‘My mouth opened as my brain caught up with what had happened; small noises of protest escaped me, but the words flying about my mind failed to form.’
      • ‘A sound escaped him, but she wasn't sure if what she heard was laughing or weeping.’
      • ‘Jonathon knew what he wanted to say, but his pride would not let the words escape him.’
      • ‘Every so often a noise would escape her, a small sound, but nevertheless painful to hear.’
      • ‘She smiled slightly at that but no sound escaped her.’
      • ‘Plopping herself daintily down on the chair opposite Leah she poured herself a bowl of cereal, not a word escaping her once.’
      • ‘At one point the very beginning of a word escaped her lips, and she threw both hands to her mouth as if to stop anything further from leaking out.’
      • ‘His back arched involuntarily, and a content ‘mmm’ sound escaped his lips, edged with a groan.’
      • ‘I ran a hand through my hair and was about to say something, when Jess stormed past, a small, frustrated sound escaping her.’
      • ‘A bitter bark of laughter escaped her, utterly devoid of humor.’
      • ‘She heard a sound escape him, a mix between a moan and a hiss.’
      • ‘A scream finally escaped me and it all stopped as my lungs tore free of the rest of my chest.’
      • ‘Once the laugh escaped me, I noticed Toni glaring at me, and I tried not to laugh again.’
      • ‘It was only when the words had escaped him that he recognised how much they gave away.’
      • ‘Murmured words escaped her lips, but were lost in his kiss.’
      • ‘Despite my best efforts, a snort of laughter escaped me.’
      • ‘‘No,’ I screamed, the word escaping me before I realised that it had left my lips.’
      • ‘The words escaped my lips with a tremble, magnified in an echo that swept through the room.’
      • ‘The only reason the word didn't escape her in a shriek was due to the fact that she didn't possess the energy to commit to such a sound.’
  • 2with object Fail to be noticed or remembered by (someone)

    ‘the name escaped him’
    ‘it may have escaped your notice, but this is not a hotel’
    • ‘Now, there was in Claremorris at that time a man, whose name escapes me, that was famous for the floral displays in his garden.’
    • ‘But the official-sounding name has not escaped the notice of those keeping a close watch on such titles.’
    • ‘We also went to this new store near Japan town, whose name escapes me.’
    • ‘And it's got that guy… the little weaselly guy whose name escapes me.’
    • ‘If the author has given his name, it has escaped my notice.’
    • ‘There's a great story, I wish I could remember the guy's name - it escapes me at the moment.’
    • ‘After a month or so, they started bringing their dog… a wheezy little pug whose name escapes me (I never did like pugs).’
    • ‘Eddie is the president of some club in Melbourne, the name of which escapes me.’
    • ‘Words escaped me, and when they came, they were anything but brilliant.’
    • ‘The music, I'm sure you're dying to know, was the piece from the old Hamlet cigar ads - the name escapes me just now.’
    • ‘I'm afraid words have escaped me, and perhaps it is better as so.’
    • ‘There is so much I want to say, so much I want to make the world aware of, but words escape me.’
    • ‘Susannah tried to speak, to scream out for Jake as he'd instructed, but words completely escaped her.’
    • ‘I would like to express my formal thanks to the NHS Trust and to the doctor I saw that evening, whose name regrettably now escapes me.’
    • ‘I hate having to come up with words to explain that I know and remember the person but that the name is momentarily escaping me.’
    • ‘Opening his mouth, he started to speak, but words escaped him.’
    • ‘I was just about to throttle them both but then I noticed something that had escaped me before.’
    • ‘Someone, who's name escapes me, once said that wisdom is the ability to hold two competing ideas in one's head at any one time.’
    • ‘The airport coffee shop is playing a song by a band whose name escapes me just for the moment.’
    • ‘His name escaped her at the moment, but Catherine remembered that he was a senior.’
    • ‘This was lead by a female teacher whose name escapes me.’
    • ‘I am speechless, words to describe it escape me.’
    • ‘His name escapes me now (probably traumatic amnesia), but I hope his ears are burning, wherever he is.’
    • ‘With the exception of one guy, whose name escapes me right now, the DJs are a pretty poor bunch too.’
    • ‘Concerning the film version, as far as I'm aware it was filmed in the sixties by a Polish director, whose name escapes me.’
    • ‘I thought Norwich's new defender, whose name now escapes me, was very good.’
    • ‘For a while, words escaped me and I couldn't imagine what to say.’
  • 3Computing
    with object Interrupt (an operation) by means of the escape key.

    • ‘Once installed, traditional Linux / UNIX escaping, quoting or tabbing is necessary to get to directories with spaces in their names.’
    • ‘When conducting a tag search in Movable Type, the application is not properly escaping the optional IncludeBlogs query string parameter.’
    1. 3.1 Cause (a subsequent character or characters) to be interpreted differently.


  • 1An act of breaking free from confinement or control.

    ‘the story of his escape from a POW camp’
    ‘he could think of no way of escape, short of rudeness’
    • ‘We attempted to make an escape, to sneak past the guards and run free to a farming town.’
    • ‘The third spider was moving rapidly across the coffee table, attempting an escape.’
    • ‘It seems yet another puppy had attempted to make an escape, this time a German Shepard pup.’
    • ‘Various escape attempts were made, but no one was out for long.’
    • ‘He was still tied up when the men made their escape but managed to free himself.’
    • ‘And finally, let's stop to consider exactly which law would be broken in an escape from detention.’
    • ‘The two men who helped in the escape attempt were executed.’
    • ‘During the theft he comes upon a chambermaid whom he takes hostage, then kills, as his escape attempt goes awry.’
    • ‘Later, when my kidnappers beat me up after a failed escape attempt, I became aware that their savagery was about much more than British or American foreign policy.’
    • ‘The next night, the floodlights were still on, but he felt desperate enough to attempt his escape.’
    • ‘On Friday morning, the guards thwarted an escape attempt by 2 inmates.’
    • ‘Finally, any kind of attempt at escape will mean solitary confinement for 30 days.’
    • ‘Alexei is unable to accompany her - his price for his compliance in her escape is confinement in a Soviet work camp.’
    • ‘One group of hostages which had earlier attempted an escape were all killed.’
    • ‘It tells the story of a 1946 escape attempt from that most infamous of prisons, Alcatraz.’
    • ‘The snake was half in the bag when it turned around and attempted an escape.’
    • ‘He had been at work in one of the villages further up the coast, and was tailed by a vigilant constable as he attempted his escape.’
    • ‘The plucky farmer is understood to have startled the thief who eventually broke free and made his escape to a waiting car.’
    getaway, breakout, bolt for freedom, running away, flight, bolting, absconding, decamping, fleeing, flit
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An act of successfully avoiding something dangerous, unpleasant, or unwelcome.
      ‘the baby was fine, but it was a lucky escape’
      • ‘On March 10, the Evening Press reported that four householders in the village had a narrow escape when a car skidded off the road and ploughed into two houses.’
      • ‘A family of four from Pewsey has spoken of its narrow escape from the flooding disaster that devastated the Cornish village of Boscastle.’
      • ‘A Kirkby Lonsdale woman had a narrow escape when lightning struck the shop she was working in as a violent thunderstorm engulfed the town.’
      • ‘We opted for the bottled water and thanked our lucky stars for our narrow escape.’
      • ‘An Ambleside man had a narrow escape after stumbling and sinking up to his armpits in a bog while walking on the Lake District fells, reports Paul Duncan.’
      • ‘A lorry driver and his colleague had a narrow escape when a brick hurled by youths struck just centimetres from the windscreen.’
      • ‘In York, one family had a narrow escape when a tree fell on their car.’
      • ‘Two people from Bradford had a miraculous escape after the vehicle in which they were travelling crashed through a fence.’
      • ‘A dream holiday in the Caribbean turned into a narrow escape for a pair of friends from Trowbridge as they found themselves in the path of a hurricane.’
      • ‘Motorists had a narrow escape when a lorry carrying heavy scrap metal crashed into a bridge, shedding its load.’
      • ‘No serious injuries were reported but the car driver had a narrow escape.’
      • ‘An elderly couple had a narrow escape from an arson attack that would have ‘undoubtedly’ killed them.’
      • ‘A local man had a narrow escape from serious injury when the tractor he was driving was in collision with a lorry at Boggan Hill on Tuesday March 26.’
      • ‘The first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster dates from the 6th century when one of Saint Columba's monks had a narrow escape from its jaws.’
      • ‘Last year, Kevin had a narrow escape when a stunt went horribly wrong.’
      • ‘Residents in a block of flats in Epsom had a narrow escape on Valentine's Day when a fire in a basement flat threatened to engulf the three-storey block.’
      • ‘A lawyer and his family who had a narrow escape in the tsunami disaster are working in two hospitals to help the injured survivors.’
      • ‘More recently he had a narrow escape when a motorist suddenly changed lanes and crossed right in front of him, forcing him to swerve to avoid a collision.’
      • ‘A terrified gamekeeper had a lucky escape after he managed to sprint to safety from a charging hippopotamus.’
      • ‘A Cranmore woman had a narrow escape when a bullet smashed through the front window of her car during last weekend's shooting.’
      avoidance of, evasion of, dodging of, eluding of, circumvention of
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A means of escaping from somewhere.
      as modifier ‘he had planned his escape route’
      • ‘He was beginning to be extra glad that Miles had planned an escape route.’
      • ‘When rich nations lock poorer countries out of their markets in this way, they close the door to an escape route from poverty.’
      • ‘Another explosion rocks the ship, and suddenly the escape capsule breaks free - flying to the surface.’
      • ‘Plan an escape route in case you are washed into the sea.’
      • ‘The family members should plan two escape routes from each room and practise the plan until it is perfected.’
      • ‘All four women began life in poverty, from which prostitution offered the only escape.’
      • ‘His escape route would no doubt be well planned, but that was of little consequence or interest to Bailey - they needed to stop the man before he made the shot.’
      • ‘I had an escape route planned out of town, and since I'd be driving my scooter I wouldn't have to worry about traffic.’
      • ‘Damn, I had escape routes planned from countries I'd never even been to.’
      • ‘I spend the next couple of hours planning my escape route.’
      • ‘She knew she had me, that there was no escape and that the weekend that followed would be torment and humiliating.’
      • ‘There was no escape, no way out of this.’
      • ‘In our plan, we had never devised an emergency escape route.’
      • ‘I then busied myself with the task of planning an escape route… You know, just in case.’
      • ‘The files were dated June 26, 2004, and included details about escape routes, evacuation plans and road closures.’
    3. 1.3 A form of temporary distraction from reality or routine.
      ‘romantic novels should present an escape from the dreary realities of life’
      • ‘The truth is people choose alcohol and drugs as a means of escape because their reality is too painful to deal with.’
      • ‘The effects provide a temporary escape from reality by relieving fears, tension and anxiety.’
      • ‘The very nature of popular film is to provide an escape from daily reality and monotonous routines.’
      • ‘Such critics maintain that movies are simply an escape from reality - that they offer pictures of life closer to myth than actual truth.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, this feeling is actually an illusion, a short-lived escape from reality.’
      • ‘Religion can also be used as an escape from problems.’
      • ‘I started this blog as a creative outlet, a much needed release, an escape from reality.’
      • ‘Online many people express fantasies or adopt identities precisely because they are an escape from reality.’
      • ‘My eyes were closed, but I knew that was only a temporary escape.’
      • ‘This was her escape from the harsh reality of the real world.’
      • ‘They say Carnival is an escape from reality and gives people the chance to participate in a little fantasy for two days.’
      • ‘This is the stuff of dreams, an escape from reality.’
      • ‘Circumstances make a schizoid reaction all too easy for us - a flight from reality and the escape from responsibility.’
      distraction, diversion, interruption
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4 A leakage of gas, liquid, or heat from a container.
      • ‘This expansion creates a metal-to-metal seal and prevents the escape of gases.’
      • ‘The cause of the escape of gas was tracked down to a crack in an ageing pipe.’
      • ‘The company was yesterday visiting every house in the three villages to ensure the supply was turned off to prevent escapes when the gas goes back on.’
      • ‘Foil and plastic facings on these foam panels help to slow the escape of gas from the cell structure.’
      leak, leakage, spill, seepage, drip, dribble, discharge, emanation, issue, flow, outflow, outpouring, gush
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5 A garden plant or pet animal that has gone wild and (especially in plants) become naturalized.
      • ‘It is most likely that the two trees are escapes or remnants from cultivation.’
      • ‘And Vaccinium macrocarpon (the cranberry) is now a casual escape on the Pacific coast.’
      • ‘This tropical China native is a rare escape from cultivation.’
      • ‘Gleason and Cronquist list it as an escape in Vermont and New Hampshire.’
    6. 1.6Computing A key on a computer keyboard that either interrupts the current operation or causes subsequent characters to be interpreted differently.
      • ‘It is possible to save the game at any stage in the play via the escape key.’
      • ‘Fortunately you can skip them by hitting the escape key.’
      • ‘His first thought, when something went wrong, was to immediately hit the escape key - even when he was nowhere near a computer.’
      • ‘You can also hit escape at that point to cancel.’
      • ‘Note to self: don't hit escape key while in the Blogger window, else it removes all the text that you've painstakingly put down.’


Middle English: from Old French eschaper, based on medieval Latin ex- ‘out’ + cappa ‘cloak’. Compare with escapade.