Definition of ransom noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//ˈrænsəm//
; NAmE NAmE//ˈrænsəm//
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  • [countable, uncountable] money that is paid to somebody so that they will set free a person who is being kept as a prisoner by them The kidnappers demanded a ransom of £50 000 from his family. a ransom demand/note ransom money They are refusing to pay ransom for her release. They stole cattle for ransom.
  • Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French ransoun (noun), ransouner (verb), from Latin redemptio(n-) ‘ransoming, releasing’, from redimere ‘buy back’, from re- ‘back’ + emere ‘buy’. Early use also occurred in theological contexts expressing ‘deliverance’ and ‘atonement’.Idioms
      hold somebody to ransom
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    1. 1to keep somebody as a prisoner and demand that other people pay you an amount of money before you set them free
    2. 2(disapproving) to take action that puts somebody in a very difficult situation in order to force them to do what you want The company refused to be held to ransom by the union.
    (literary) a very large amount of money
    See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: ransom

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