bail

Bail can be a verb or a noun. When you bail (verb) someone out of jail, you post money, also known as bail (noun), to assure the authorities that person won't try to run away before going to trial.

As a noun, bail means bond money. This comes from the Middle English word bayle, for "captivity." As a verb, the idea of "bailing out" comes from the later word baile, which means “dipping out,” a meaning you can use when you are trying to empty something flooded. If your boat has a leak, you should bail it out (then plug the leak). When you bail, in the colloquial sense, you escape in some way.

Definitions of bail
  1. noun
    (criminal law) money that must be forfeited by the bondsman if an accused person fails to appear in court for trial
    “the judge set bail at $10,000”
    synonyms: bail bond, bond
    see moresee less
    type of:
    recognisance, recognizance
    (law) a security entered into before a court with a condition to perform some act required by law; on failure to perform that act a sum is forfeited
  2. noun
    the legal system that allows an accused person to be temporarily released from custody (usually on condition that a sum of money guarantees their appearance at trial)
    “he is out on bail
    see moresee less
    type of:
    legal system
    a system for interpreting and enforcing the laws
  3. verb
    secure the release of (someone) by providing security
    see moresee less
    type of:
    guarantee, vouch
    give surety or assume responsibility
  4. verb
    release after a security has been paid
    see moresee less
    type of:
    free, liberate, loose, release, unloose, unloosen
    grant freedom to; free from confinement
  5. verb
    deliver something in trust to somebody for a special purpose and for a limited period
    see moresee less
    type of:
    deliver, fork out, fork over, fork up, hand over, render, turn in
    to surrender someone or something to another
  6. verb
    remove (water) from a vessel with a container
    see moresee less
    type of:
    remove, take, take away, withdraw
    remove something concrete, as by lifting, pushing, or taking off, or remove something abstract
  7. verb
    empty (a vessel) by bailing
    see moresee less
    type of:
    empty
    make void or empty of contents
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week