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Abduct vs Kidnap

Abduct and kidnap are sometimes employed without distinction as denoting to carry off (a person) surreptitiously for an illegal purpose.

In general use kidnap is the more specific term because it connotes seizure and detention for ransom. In law, however, the reverse is true, for the verbs acquire their meanings from the rigid technical definitions of kidnaping and abduction.

  • Two businessmen have been kidnapped by terrorists.

Kidnaping is the legal term of wider application, implying that a person has been seized by violence or fraud and detained against his will or that of his legal guardian.

  • She was arraigned today on charges of assault and kidnapping.

Abduction is the carrying off of a girl (usually one below the legal age of consent), either against her will or with her consent, for marriage or seduction.

  • In some cases of abduction, the abducting parent is mentally unstable and/or a drug abuser.

Consequently in law kidnaping and abduction and kidnap and abduct can be used interchangeably only when the person carried off is a girl below a fixed age, or when seizure and detention are against her will and the motive is marriage or rape.