If you’re ever kidnapped, you’d probably be worth millions in ransom. Ransom is the money demanded for the release of a captive.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “held for ransom.” That means someone has been captured and is being held prisoner until a sum of money is delivered to the captors. Ransom can refer to the money paid, but it can also be a verb that describes paying for the release of someone being held. If you have to ransom your best friend, that means you’re paying his captors to release him.

Definitions of ransom

n the act of freeing from captivity or punishment

Type of:
recovery, retrieval
the act of regaining or saving something lost (or in danger of becoming lost)

n payment for the release of someone

Type of:
defrayal, defrayment, payment
the act of paying money

n money demanded for the return of a captured person

ransom money
Type of:
the total spent for goods or services including money and time and labor

v exchange or buy back for money; under threat

Type of:
change, exchange, interchange
give to, and receive from, one another

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.