What does ransom mean?

Definitions for ransom
ˈræn səmran·som

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word ransom.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. ransom, ransom moneynoun

    money demanded for the return of a captured person

  2. ransomnoun

    payment for the release of someone

  3. ransomverb

    the act of freeing from captivity or punishment

  4. ransom, redeemverb

    exchange or buy back for money; under threat


  1. ransomnoun

    Money paid for the freeing of a hostage.

  2. ransomverb

    To deliver, especially in context of sin or relevant penalties.

  3. ransomverb

    To pay a price to set someone free from captivity or punishment.

    to ransom prisoners from an enemy

  4. ransomverb

    To exact a ransom for, or a payment on.

    Such lands as he had rule of he ransomed them so grievously, and would tax the men two or three times in a year. uE000176397uE001 Berners.

  5. Etymology: From the ransoun, from the rançon, from stem of redemptio. (See redemption.) Entered English ca. the 13th century


  1. Ransom

    Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner or item to extort money or property to secure their release, or the sum of money involved in such a practice. When ransom means "payment", the word comes via Old French rançon from Latin redemptio = "buying back": compare "redemption".

Webster Dictionary

  1. Ransomnoun

    the release of a captive, or of captured property, by payment of a consideration; redemption; as, prisoners hopeless of ransom

  2. Ransomnoun

    the money or price paid for the redemption of a prisoner, or for goods captured by an enemy; payment for freedom from restraint, penalty, or forfeit

  3. Ransomnoun

    a sum paid for the pardon of some great offense and the discharge of the offender; also, a fine paid in lieu of corporal punishment

  4. Ransomnoun

    to redeem from captivity, servitude, punishment, or forfeit, by paying a price; to buy out of servitude or penalty; to rescue; to deliver; as, to ransom prisoners from an enemy

  5. Ransomnoun

    to exact a ransom for, or a payment on

  6. Etymology: [OE. raunson, raunsoun, OF. ranon, raenon, raanon, F. ranon, fr. L. redemptio, fr. redimere to redeem. See Redeem, and cf. Redemption.]


  1. Ransom

    Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner or item to extort money or property to secure their release, or it can refer to the sum of money involved. In an early German law, a similar concept was called bad influence. Julius Caesar was captured by pirates near the island of Pharmacusa, and held until someone paid 50 talents to free him. In Europe during the Middle Ages, ransom became an important custom of chivalric warfare. An important knight, especially nobility or royalty, was worth a significant sum of money if captured, but nothing if he was killed. For this reason, the practice of ransom contributed to the development of heraldry, which allowed knights to advertise their identities, and by implication their ransom value, and made them less likely to be killed out of hand. Examples include Richard the Lion Heart and Bertrand du Guesclin. When ransom means "payment", the word comes via Old French rançon from Latin redemptio = "buying back": compare "redemption". In Judaism ransom is called kofer-nefesh. Among other uses, the word was applied to the poll tax of a half shekel to be paid by every male above twenty years at the census. In 1532, Francisco Pizarro was paid a ransom amounting to a roomful of gold by the Inca Empire before having their leader Atahualpa, his victim, executed in a ridiculous trial. The ransom payment received by Pizarro is recognized as the largest ever paid to a single individual, probably over $2 billion in today's economic markets.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Ransom

    ran′sum, n. price paid for redemption from captivity or punishment: release from captivity: atonement: expiation.—v.t. to redeem from captivity, punishment, or ownership: (Shak.) to set free for a price: (Shak.) to expiate.—adj. Ran′somable.—n. Ran′somer.—adj. Ran′somless, without ransom: incapable of being ransomed. [Fr. rançon—L. redemptio; cf. Redemption.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. ransom

    Money paid for the liberty of a war-prisoner, a city, or for the restoration of a captured vessel: formerly much practised at sea. It then fell into disuse, but was revived for a time in the seventeenth century. At length the greater maritime powers prohibited the offering or accepting such ransoms. By English law, all such securities shall be absolutely void; and he who enters into any such contract shall forfeit £500 on conviction. A privateer taking ransom forfeits her letters of marque, and her commander is punishable with a heavy penalty and imprisonment.

Suggested Resources

  1. ransom

    Song lyrics by ransom -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by ransom on the Lyrics.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Ransom is ranked #2150 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Ransom surname appeared 16,871 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 6 would have the surname Ransom.

    53.3% or 8,997 total occurrences were White.
    37.9% or 6,408 total occurrences were Black.
    3.1% or 535 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    2.7% or 466 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    2.2% or 385 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
    0.4% or 79 total occurrences were Asian.

Matched Categories

Anagrams for ransom »

  1. ramson

  2. Romans

  3. manors

  4. morans

  5. normas

How to pronounce ransom?

How to say ransom in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of ransom in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of ransom in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of ransom in a Sentence

  1. Vallejo Police Lt. Kenny Park:

    Ms. Huskins' whereabouts are unknown, and we are treating this matter as a kidnap for ransom, we're worried about Ms. Huskins' welfare. We don't know where she's at. And that's why we're coming to the public asking for their help.

  2. Sidney Jones:

    This ransom business has been hugely successful for Abu Sayyaf ... it's gotten them lots of money and freedom to operate.

  3. John Fetterman:

    I've always supported fracking and I always believe that independence with our energy is critical, and we can't be held, you know, ransom to somebody like Russia, i've always believed that energy independence is critical and I've always believed that — and I do support fracking, never taken any money from their industry, but I support how critical it is that we produce our energy and create energy independence.

  4. Protester Beth Dori:

    The ransom is for us to stop fighting. They want to bring the Brazilian people to their knees. they did this so they could do what theyre doing now with social security and workers rights laws.

  5. Troy Hunt:

    There could be domestic violence, child abuse, all sorts of things in there, that to me is a lot more worrying, might this lead to extortion ? We often see extortion of individuals after data leaks, examples where hackers can even try to ransom individuals.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for ransom

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"ransom." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 26 Mar. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/ransom>.

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    an embarrassing mistake
    • A. abet
    • B. monish
    • C. lucubrate
    • D. flub

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