Definition of hostage in English:

hostage

noun

  • A person seized or held as security for the fulfillment of a condition.

    ‘the kidnapper had instructed the hostage's family to drop the ransom at noon’
    • ‘The blasts also triggered chaos inside the building, which a number of hostages seized upon as their cue to escape.’
    • ‘The army used microphones to urge the gunmen to release the hostages and surrender.’
    • ‘Let me make clear that I join every other civilized person in hoping the hostages are released unharmed.’
    • ‘This was meant to pave the way for talks aimed at gaining the release of the hostages.’
    • ‘Scores of hostages from two dozen countries have been seized in the last four months.’
    • ‘Finally the vehicle was abandoned and the hostages were made to walk on foot.’
    • ‘These rules made sense in an era when hijackers demanded money or held hostages for political purposes.’
    • ‘They had become hostages at sea, where captives are more discreetly disposed of than anywhere else.’
    • ‘Yes, we cannot really impose on him a condition to leave his family behind as hostages.’
    • ‘Japan can breathe a momentary sigh of relief after the release of three Japanese hostages.’
    • ‘You have a known murderer, out from prison on license, who is holding hostages in a house.’
    • ‘The three hostages were rescued, although one is in serious condition in hospital.’
    • ‘Seventeen hostages remain in the jungle where they have been held captive for two and a half months.’
    • ‘Many of the 349 hostages now being treated in hospital are in a serious condition and could yet die.’
    • ‘The grim find came just days after hopes were raised for three of the hostages as a new videotape of them was released.’
    • ‘The gang took the manager to his branch while holding the rest of his family hostage.’
    • ‘He said they would free all the hostages if police released the rest of the detained protesters.’
    • ‘Most of the child hostages who were seized by terrorists were reported to be alive.’
    • ‘Ten hostages have been released unharmed but five remain unaccounted for.’
    • ‘One of the four Italian hostages who worked for a security company was killed.’
    captive, prisoner, detainee, internee
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • hold (or take) someone hostage

    • Seize and keep someone as a hostage.

      ‘they were held hostage by armed rebels’
      ‘taken hostage at gunpoint’
      • ‘The murder was unusual in that was no attempt was made by his attackers to hold him hostage or make political capital out of his nationality.’
      • ‘There is never a good business reason to let an employee hold you hostage.’
      • ‘They will have the power to hold us hostage to blackmail and terror.’
      • ‘It doesn't make sense for the terrorists to abduct a person, hold him hostage, and not tell anyone until just before they execute him.’
      • ‘It's like the Stockholm Syndrome where hostages imprint on the people who hold them hostage and fight against their rescuers.’
      • ‘They will take you from me, and hold you hostage.’
      • ‘They hold you hostage and feed you horrible fattening food you would never eat anywhere else.’
      • ‘They seize the recruits and hold them hostage for a few hours.’
      • ‘‘We needed to look the beast in the eye,’ explains Archbishop Desmond Tutu, ‘so that the past wouldn't hold us hostage any more.’’
      • ‘The purpose of such action is to force average people to their knees and hold them hostage to the horrors of terrorism.’
  • a hostage to fortune

    • An act, commitment, or remark that is regarded as unwise because it invites trouble or could prove difficult to live up to.

      ‘making objectives explicit is to give a hostage to fortune’
      • ‘Nobody who has been an MP for 12 years and a front-bencher for eight can be unaware of the risks involved in handing hostages to fortune.’
      • ‘The coalition which will form the new government will almost certainly have to give a number of hostages to fortune if it is to get there.’
      • ‘Promises made in the heat of an election campaign all too often create hostages to fortune.’
      • ‘In essence, the manifesto which evolved during the 1990s was a pragmatic statement of radical intent which went out of its way to remove the more obvious hostages to fortune which were never going to be implemented anyway.’
      • ‘There's no point in giving hostages to fortune, is there?’
      • ‘There is no point in producing a blog if it is not honest and open but politicians are wary beasts because we are all hostages to fortune and we don't want to give our opponents ammunition.’
      • ‘Statues, like wives and children, are hostages to fortune; they inspire superstitious dread while their originals are in power, and an equally superstitious hatred when they lose the aura of power.’
      • ‘This brave statement may yet prove to be a hostage to fortune.’
      • ‘They might pass something that proves an electoral liability or makes a minister a hostage to fortune.’
      • ‘These are just early signs and it would be giving hostages to fortune to suggest that suddenly everything is back fully on track in terms of global growth.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French, based on late Latin obsidatus ‘the state of being a hostage’ (the earliest sense in English), from Latin obses, obsid- ‘hostage’.

Pronunciation

hostage

/ˈhästij//ˈhɑstɪdʒ/