transitive verb kid·napped
To seize and detain unlawfully and usually for ransom.
Origin: Probably kid
Origin: + nap, to snatch (perhaps variant of nab and or of Scandinavian origin)
- kidˌnap·peeˈ, kidˌnap·eeˈ (kĭdˌnă-pēˈ) noun
- kidˈnapˌper, kidˈnapˌer noun
Appropriately enough, kidnapper
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is obsolete slang for a thief, coming from the verb nap,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 1678, the year in which the word is first recorded, 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
is recorded later (1682) than the noun and so is possibly a back-formation, that is, people may have assumed that a kidnapper kidnaps.