transitive verbkid·napped, kid·nap·ping, kid·naps,
or kid·naped kid·nap·ing
To abduct or confine (a person) forcibly, by threat of force, or by deceit, without the authority of law.
Origin of kidnap kid child nap to snatch
(perhaps variant of nab
) ( or of Scandinavian origin
- kid′nap·pee′ kid′nap·ee′
Word History: Kidnapper
- kid′nap′per kid′nap′er
seems to have originated among those who perpetrate this crime. We know this because kid
the two parts of the compound, were slang of the sort that criminals used. Kid,
which still has an informal air, was considered low slang when kidnapper
was formed, and napper
is obsolete slang for a thief, coming from the verb nap,
“to steal.” Nap
is possibly a variant of nab,
which also still has a slangy ring. In the second half of the 1600s, when the word kidnapper
begins to appear in English, kidnappers plied their trade to secure laborers for plantations in colonies such as the ones in North America. The term later took on the broader sense that it has today. The verb kidnap
begins to be attested a bit later than kidnapper
and is possibly a back-formation from kidnapper
—that is, the suffix -er
was removed from kidnapper
to create a new verb kidnap.
(third-person singular simple present kidnaps, present participle kidnapping or kidnaping, simple past and past participle kidnapped or kidnaped)
- To seize and detain a person unlawfully; sometimes for ransom.
- An instance of kidnapping.
From kid (“child”) + nap (“nab, grab”)