1. A person held by one party in a conflict as security that specified terms will be met by the opposing party.
2. One that serves as security against an implied threat: superpowers held hostage to each other by their nuclear arsenals.
3. One that is under the constraining control of another: "In becoming a mother one becomes a hostage to fortune" (Janna Malamud Smith).
[Middle English, from Old French, probably from host, guest, host; see HOST1.]
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