- Incarcerate is defined as to put in jail or shut inside a place.
- An example of incarcerate is putting a person in prison.
- An example of incarcerate is putting a lion in a cage.
A man incarcerated.
transitive verbin·car·cer·at·ed, in·car·cer·at·ing, in·car·cer·ates
- To put in a prison or jail.
- To shut in; confine.
Origin of incarcerateMedieval Latin incarcerāre, incarcerāt- : Latin in-, in; see in–2 + Latin carcer, prison.
(third-person singular simple present incarcerates, present participle incarcerating, simple past and past participle incarcerated)
As a Latinate term, somewhat formal, compared to imprison.
From Medieval Latin incarceratus, past participle of incarcerare (“to imprison”), from Latin in (“in”) + carcer (“a prison”), meaning "put behind lines (bars)" – Latin root is of a lattice or grid. Related to cancel (“cross out with lines”) and chancel (“area behind a lattice”).
See also carcerate and cancer.