Borrowed from Latin captīvō; synchronically analyzable as captive +‎ -ate.



captivate (third-person singular simple present captivates, present participle captivating, simple past and past participle captivated)

  1. To attract and hold interest and attention of; charm.
    • (Can we date this quote by Washington Irving and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      small landscapes of captivating loveliness
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 3, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      One saint's day in mid-term a certain newly appointed suffragan-bishop came to the school chapel, and there preached on “The Inner Life.”  He at once secured attention by his informal method, and when presently the coughing of Jarvis […] interrupted the sermon, he altogether captivated his audience with a remark about cough lozenges being cheap and easily procurable.
  2. (obsolete) To take prisoner; to capture; to subdue.
    • c. 1591–1592, William Shakespeare, “The Third Part of Henry the Sixt, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene iv]:
      Their woes whom fortune captivates.
    • (Can we date this quote by Glanvill and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      'Tis a greater credit to know the ways of captivating Nature, and making her subserve our purposes, than to have learned all the intrigues of policy.

Related termsEdit






  1. second-person plural present active imperative of captīvō