1. One, such as a prisoner of war, who is forcibly confined, subjugated, or enslaved.
2. One held in the grip of a strong emotion or passion.
3. A subsidiary that serves only its parent company.
1. Taken and held prisoner, as in war.
2. Held in bondage; enslaved.
3. Kept under restraint or control; confined: captive birds.
4. Enraptured, as by beauty; captivated.
5. Restrained by circumstances that prevent free choice: a captive audience; a captive market.
6. Serving a single company exclusively: a captive insurer.
[Middle English captif, from Old French, from Latin captīvus, from captus, past participle of capere, to seize; see kap- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.