Ransom is the practice of holding a prisoner to extort money or property to secure their release, or it can refer to the sum of money involved.

In early Germanic law a similar concept was called Weregild.

In 78 BC, pirates of modern-day Turkey captured Julius Caesar and held him on Pharmakonisi until someone paid a fee for him. It also refers to demanding concessions from a person or organization by threatening damaging action.

In Europe during the Middle Ages, ransom became an important custom of chivalric warfare. An important knight, especially nobility or royalty, was worth a significant sum of money if captured, but nothing if he was killed. For this reason, the practice of ransom contributed to the development of heraldry, which allowed knights to advertise their identities, and by implication their ransom value, and made them less likely to be killed out of hand.

When ransom means "payment", the word comes via Old French "rançon" from Latin "redemptio" = "buying back": compare "".

In Christianity, ransom is the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which made deliverance from sin and death possible for the offspring of Adam.

In Judaism ransom is called "kofer-nefesh" (.

In the popular imagination, ransom notes (i.e. letters sent by the captors to those who they expect to pay up) are constructed from letters cut from newspapers to stop anyone from recognising the handwriting of the extortionist.

In typography, and later in computing lore, the ransom note effect occurs when a document uses too many fonts.

In school athletics, a school's mascot is sometimes kidnapped, and the ransom payment is usually a contest like a football game.

See also

*bail, a judicially determined sum of money deposited as security to ensure that a prisoner appears in court if released.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ransom — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Brayton Howard Ransom (1879–1925), US amerikanischer Parasitologe Caroline L. Ransom (1872–1952), US amerikanische Archäologin Epaphroditus Ransom (1798–1859), US amerikanischer Politiker John Crowe Ransom …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • ransom — ran·som 1 n: a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity see also kidnapping ransom 2 vt: to free from captivity by paying a price rape 1 vt raped, rap·ing [Latin rapere to seize and take away by force] …   Law dictionary

  • ransom — ► NOUN ▪ a sum of money demanded or paid for the release of a captive. ► VERB 1) obtain the release of (someone) by paying a ransom. 2) detain (someone) and demand a ransom for their release. ● hold to ransom Cf. ↑hold to ransom ● …   English terms dictionary

  • Ransom — Ran som (r[a^]n s[u^]m), n. [OE. raunson, raunsoun, OF. ran[,c]on, raen[,c]on, raan[,c]on, F. ran[,c]on, fr. L. redemptio, fr. redimere to redeem. See {Redeem}, and cf. {Redemption}.] 1. The release of a captive, or of captured property, by… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ransom — Ransom, IL U.S. village in Illinois Population (2000): 409 Housing Units (2000): 159 Land area (2000): 0.991359 sq. miles (2.567608 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.991359 sq. miles (2.567608 sq …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Ransom — Ran som, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Ransomed} ( s[u^]md); p. pr. & vb. n. {Ransoming}.] [Cf. F. ran[,c]onner. See {Ransom}, n.] 1. To redeem from captivity, servitude, punishment, or forfeit, by paying a price; to buy out of servitude or penalty; to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ransom —   [ rænsəm], John Crowe, amerikanischer Schriftsteller und Kritiker, * Pulaski (Tennessee) 30. 4. 1888, ✝ Gambier (Ohio) 3.7. 1974; studierte und lehrte (bis 1937) an der Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee), wo er zu den wichtigsten… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Ransom, IL — U.S. village in Illinois Population (2000): 409 Housing Units (2000): 159 Land area (2000): 0.991359 sq. miles (2.567608 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.991359 sq. miles (2.567608 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Ransom, KS — U.S. city in Kansas Population (2000): 338 Housing Units (2000): 179 Land area (2000): 0.326169 sq. miles (0.844774 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.326169 sq. miles (0.844774 sq. km) FIPS code …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • RANSOM — (Heb. כֹּפֶר, kofer), the compensation required to avoid bodily punishment or to free one s self from an undesirable state or condition (Isa. 43:3). The term kofer is related to the Akkadian kapāru ( to wipe off ) or kuppuru ( to expiate ). The… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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