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Imprison vs Incarcerate vs Jail vs Immure vs Intern

Imprison, incarceratejailimmureintern mean to confine closely so that escape is impossible or unlikely. The first three words imprison, incarcerate, jail imply a shutting up in or as if in a prison, imprison being the general term, incarcerate the bookish or journalistic term, and jail the common word.

Distinctively, imprison implies seizure and detention in custody and is applicable even when the one confined is not in a prison or jail or suffering a penalty.

Incarcerate implies a shutting up in or as if in a prison cell.

Jail may be preferred to incarcerate as a simpler and more generally intelligible term. Often, however, jail , the verb, following jail , the noun, in its accepted sense connotes imprisonment in a building in which persons are held for short periods, either paying the penalty for minor offenses or for the purpose of awaiting legal proceedings.

Immure is a literary rather than technical term. When it implies punishment for a crime, it may connote burial alive within a wall; usually, however, the term suggests restriction to closely confined quarters typically as a captive or a devotee to duty or to religion.

Intern is used chiefly of military or wartime conditions; it seldom implies incarceration and usually suggests a keeping within prescribed limits (as in a guarded camp) and under severe restraints.