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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Jail \Jail\ (j[=a]l), n. [OE. jaile, gail, gayhol, OF. gaole, gaiole, jaiole, F. ge[^o]le, LL. gabiola, dim. of gabia cage, for L. cavea cavity, cage. See Cage.] A kind of prison; a building for the confinement of persons held in lawful custody, especially for minor offenses or with reference to some future judicial proceeding. [Written also gaol.]

This jail I count the house of liberty.

Jail delivery, the release of prisoners from jail, either legally or by violence.

Jail delivery commission. See under Gaol.

Jail fever (Med.), typhus fever, or a disease resembling it, generated in jails and other places crowded with people; -- called also hospital fever, and ship fever.

Jail liberties, or Jail limits, a space or district around a jail within which an imprisoned debtor was, on certain conditions, allowed to go at large.

Jail lock, a peculiar form of padlock; -- called also Scandinavian lock.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

see jail (n.), you tea-sodden football hooligan. Formerly in official use in Britain, and thus sometimes regarded in U.S. as a characteristic British spelling; by the time of OED 2nd edition (1980s) both spellings were considered correct there; the g- spelling is said to have been dominant longest in Australia.


n. (context UK Ireland Australia English) (alternative spelling of jail English) vb. (context British English) (alternative spelling of jail English)

  1. n. a correctional institution used to detain persons who are in the lawful custody of the government (either accused persons awaiting trial or convicted persons serving a sentence) [syn: jail, jailhouse, clink, slammer]

  2. v. lock up or confine, in or as in a jail; "The suspects were imprisoned without trial"; "the murderer was incarcerated for the rest of his life" [syn: imprison, incarcerate, lag, immure, put behind bars, jail, jug, put away, remand]

Usage examples of "gaol".

A garnet brooch deftly unclipped from the bombasine blouse worn by a nanny earned a gaol term or transportion no different to the neatest unclipping of a diamond pin from the silk bodice of a duchess.

Isbaenna realized he was likely Dochau Druery, the reputedly sadistic warden of Gaol.

If Tommy were such an eejit as to get in with this kind of a crowd, maybe the safest place for him was in gaol.

When they catch him and he has confessed, he will unaccountably escape from gaol and disappear.

Suddenly, it is as if I am back at the gaol in Kororareka with Maple and Syrup holding my arms and Hori Hura threatening me.

Chisholm, a fiery little Lancer, was in command, with Karri Davis and Wools-Sampson, the two stalwarts who had preferred Pretoria Gaol to the favours of Kruger, as his majors.

The Commissary has known him as an indigent, good-for-nothing lubbard who has begged his way in the streets of Paris ever since he was released from gaol some months ago, after he had served a term for larceny.

He will give you no trouble, but if he does, arrest him on a charge of poaching, and take him to the gaol, where we must do the best we can with him-- but he will give you none.

Within a week Quelch was in gaol, and was taken to Boston, where his trial began on June 17th, 1704, and he was found guilty.

Skeat had been unwill- ing to recruit Thomas when they first met by the gaol in Dorchester where Skeat was testing a score of thieves and murderers to see how well they could shoot a bow.

I was distracted with various inventions to supply her with pleasures, she very kindly- betrayed me to one of her former lovers at Oxford, by whose care and diligence I was immediately apprehended and committed to gaol.

Edna led the three women released from Bertram Gaol out onto the floor and offered them an explanation of where they stood and how they had arrived there.

It is perfectly justifiable, artistically, to lay the scene of a novel in a workhouse or a gaol, but if the humanitarian impulse leads to any embroidery of or divergence from the truth, the novel is artistically injured, because the selection and grouping of facts should be guided by artistic and not by philanthropic motives.

She turned up by the dark flinty walls of Cork Gaol, and up onto the Blarney Road.

But the passless go to the Gaols, for they have no right to be in Inwit.