Definition of


  1. (noun, artifact) a correctional institution used to detain persons who are in the lawful custody of the government (either accused persons awaiting trial or convicted persons serving a sentence)
  2. (verb, social) lock up or confine, in or as in a jail
    the murderer was incarcerated for the rest of his life

via WordNet, Princeton University

Origin of the word Jail

  1. c.1275, gayhol, from O.N.Fr. gaiole and O.Fr. jaole, both meaning "a cage, prison," from M.L. gabiola, from L.L. caveola, dim. of L. cavea "cage." Both forms carried into M.E.; now pronounced "jail" however it is spelled. Norman-derived gaol (preferred in Britain) is "chiefly due to statutory and official tradition" [OED]. The ve… more

via Online Etymology Dictionary, ©2001 Douglas Harper

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