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[jeyl] /dʒeɪl/

a prison, especially one for the detention of persons awaiting trial or convicted of minor offenses.
verb (used with object)
to take into or hold in lawful custody; imprison.
a place for the confinement of persons convicted and sentenced to imprisonment or of persons awaiting trial to whom bail is not granted
(informal) get out of jail, get out of jail free, to get out of a difficult situation
(transitive) to confine in prison

late 13c., gayhol, from Old North French gaiole and Old French jaole, both meaning “a cage, prison,” from Medieval Latin gabiola, from Late Latin caveola, diminutive of Latin cavea “cage, enclosure, stall, coop” (see cave (n.)). Both forms carried into Middle English; now pronounced “jail” however it is spelled. Persistence of Norman-derived gaol (preferred in Britain) is “chiefly due to statutory and official tradition” [OED].

“to put in jail,” c.1600, from jail (n.). Related: Jailed; jailing.


To live tolerably in jail; survive imprisonment: Roy taught me how to jail (1980s+)


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