v. es·caped, es·cap·ing, es·capes
1. To break loose from confinement; get free: escape from jail.
2. To issue from confinement or enclosure; leak or seep out: Gas was escaping from the vent.
3. To avoid a serious or unwanted outcome: escaped from the accident with their lives.
4. Biology To become established in the wild. Used of a plant or animal.
5. Computers To interrupt a command, exit a program, or change levels within a program by using a key, combination of keys, or key sequence.
1. To succeed in avoiding: The thief escaped punishment.
2. To break loose from; get free of: The spacecraft escaped Earth's gravitational field.
3. To be outside the memory or understanding of; fail to be remembered or understood by: Her name escapes me. The book's significance escaped him.
4. To issue involuntarily from: A sigh escaped my lips.
1. The act or an instance of escaping.
2. A means of escaping.
3. A means of obtaining temporary freedom from worry, care, or unpleasantness: Television is my escape from worry.
4. A gradual effusion from an enclosure; a leakage.
5. Biology A cultivated plant or a domesticated or confined animal that has become established in the wild.
6. Computers A key used especially to interrupt a command, exit a program, or change levels within a program.
[Middle English escapen, from Old North French escaper, from Vulgar Latin *excappāre, to get out of one's cape, get away : Latin ex-, ex- + Medieval Latin cappa, cloak.]
Usage Note: The pronunciation (ĭk-skāp) is often viewed by many as incorrect and is probably a result of confusion with words beginning with the prefix ex-. The word is properly pronounced without the (k) sound between the short i and the (sk) sound: (ĭ-skāp).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.