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property or money given as surety that a person released from custody will return at an appointed time.
the person who agrees to be liable if someone released from custody does not return at an appointed time.
the state of release upon being bailed.
on bail, released or free as a result of having posted bond:
He was out on bail within 10 hours of his arrest.
to grant or obtain the liberty of (a person under arrest) on security given for his or her appearance when required, as in court for trial.
to deliver possession of (goods) for storage, hire, or other special purpose, without transfer of ownership.
go / stand bail for, to provide bail for:
They spent the night in jail because no one would stand bail for them.
jump bail, to abscond while free on bail:
The suspect jumped bail and is now being sought.
the semicircular handle of a kettle or pail.
a hooplike support, as for the canvas cover on a Conestoga wagon.
a metal band or bar equipped with rollers for holding a sheet or sheets of paper against the platen of a printing press, typewriter, etc.
to dip (water) out of a boat, as with a bucket.
to clear of water by dipping (usually followed by out):
to bail out a boat.
to bail water.
Also, bailer. a bucket, dipper, or other container used for bailing.
bail out,

to make a parachute jump from an airplane.
to relieve or assist (a person, company, etc.) in an emergency situation, especially a financial crisis:
The corporation bailed out its failing subsidiary through a series of refinancing operations.
to give up on or abandon something, as to evade a responsibility:
His partner bailed out before the business failed.

Cricket. either of the two small bars or sticks laid across the tops of the stumps which form the wicket.
British, Australian. a bar, framework, partition, or the like, for confining or separating cows, horses, etc., in a stable.
bails, Obsolete. the wall of an outer court of a feudal castle.
bail up, Australian.

to confine a cow for milking, as in a bail.
to force (one) to surrender or identify oneself or to state one’s business.
to waylay or rob (someone).

bail up!, Australian. (the cry of challenge of a pioneer or person living in the bush.)
Contemporary Examples

A Los Angeles judge revoked her probation and Lohan was brought to jail, although she was released later that day on bail.
Lindsay Lohan and Rehab: A Look at Their Long-Term Relationship Rachel Osman July 31, 2013

She had made several trips to visit her lawyers during the time she was out on bail and there was nothing unusual about it.
Meet ‘The Queen of Thieves’ Marm Mandelbaum, New York City’s First Mob Boss J. North Conway September 6, 2014

Michael Daly talks to her bail bondsman about her ankle bracelet—and her continued silence.
Anna Gristina, New York’s Alleged ‘Soccer Mom Madam,’ Gets Bail Michael Daly June 26, 2012

Goodman retreated to house arrest at his luxury mansion on $4 million bail.
Money, Murder, and Adoption: The Wild Trial of the Polo King Jacqui Goddard October 27, 2014

Suspects are sometimes promised lighter sentences or bail if they will simply confess.
‘I Will Commit a Massacre’ Jake Adelstein, Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky February 24, 2013

Historical Examples

Soon after his return to England he was seized in mistake for another person, and only obtained his liberty on a bail of 1000.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 7, Slice 6 Various

You expect me to bail you out—clean up your debts—put you clear?
The Big Tomorrow Paul Lohrman

I suppose that means I’ve got to come round and bail them out in the morning, eh?
Miss Million’s Maid Bertha Ruck

bail was denied to Marsh, Vasca and Joe, and for them a speedy trial was urged.
The Harbor Ernest Poole

He believed that the bail was illegal, and he believed also that Sam would stay where he was.
The Vicar of Bullhampton Anthony Trollope

a sum of money by which a person is bound to take responsibility for the appearance in court of another person or himself or herself, forfeited if the person fails to appear
the person or persons so binding themselves; surety
the system permitting release of a person from custody where such security has been taken: he was released on bail
jump bail, (formal) forfeit bail, to fail to appear in court to answer to a charge
stand bail, go bail, to act as surety (for someone)
verb (transitive)
(often foll by out) to release or obtain the release of (a person) from custody, security having been made
(often foll by out) to remove (water) from (a boat)
(cricket) either of two small wooden bars placed across the tops of the stumps to form the wicket

a partition between stalls in a stable or barn, for horses
a portable dairy house built on wheels or skids

(Austral & NZ) a framework in a cowshed used to secure the head of a cow during milking
See bail up
the semicircular handle of a kettle, bucket, etc
a semicircular support for a canopy
a movable bar on a typewriter that holds the paper against the platen

“bond money,” late 15c., a sense that apparently developed from that of “temporary release from jail” (into the custody of another, who gives security), recorded from early 15c. That evolved from earlier meaning “captivity, custody” (early 14c.). From Old French baillier “to control, to guard, deliver” (12c.), from Latin bajulare “to bear a burden,” from bajulus “porter,” of unknown origin. In late 18c. criminal slang, to give leg bail meant “to run away.”

“horizontal piece of wood in a cricket wicket,” c.1742, originally “any cross bar” (1570s), probably identical with Middle French bail “horizontal piece of wood affixed on two stakes,” and with English bail “palisade wall, outer wall of a castle” (see bailey).

“to dip water out of,” 1610s, from baile (n.) “small wooden bucket” (mid-14c.), from nautical Old French baille “bucket, pail,” from Medieval Latin *bajula (aquae), literally “porter of water,” from Latin bajulare “to bear a burden” (see bail (n.1)). To bail out “leave suddenly” (intransitive) is recorded from 1930, originally of airplane pilots. Related: Bailed; bailing.

“to procure someone’s release from prison” (by posting bail), 1580s, from bail (n.1); usually with out. Related: Bailed; bailing.


To leave; cut out, split: Bruce has bailed from the scene entirely/ Most of my friends had bailed to stay with other relatives

Related Terms

jump bail

[1970s+ college students; fr bail out]
In addition to the idiom beginning with


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