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enthral | enthrall, v.


α. lME enthralled (past participle), 15– enthrall, 16– enthral.

β. 15 inthralle, 15–19 inthrall, 16–17 inthral.

(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: en- prefix1, thrall n.1
Etymology: < en- prefix1 + thrall n.1 (in senses ‘slave’ and ‘slavery’).
With the β. forms   compare in- prefix1.

 1. transitive. To make (a person or people) a thrall or thralls, to enslave; to hold or have as a thrall; (also) to set or keep under the rule, control, or authority of oneself or another, to subjugate. Also: to reduce (a person or people) to the condition or level of a thrall; to make slave-like, to debase.

1447–8   in S. A. Moore Lett. & Papers J. Shillingford (1871) ii. 98 (MED)   The sute [about tax assessments] made by the saide Mayer and Comminalte for to have oppressed and enthralled the saide Bisshop, Dean and Chapitre.
1575   T. Newton tr. C. A. Curione Notable Hist. Saracens i. f. 37   You who alone remayned unconquered of the Gothes..will now wilfully enthrall and make your selues bonde slaues.
1614   A. Gorges tr. Lucan Pharsalia vi. 252   You Stygian hagges I will enthrall, And captiues hold.
1656   A. Cowley Pindarique Odes 33 in Poems   Ingrateful Cæsar who could Rome enthral!
1726   Weekly Jrnl. 26 Mar.   Teach its Princes to enthral their Subjects in temporal Bondage.
1777   R. Watson Hist. Reign Philip II II. xv. 64   The danger..of being again enthralled by the Spaniards.
1871   B. Taylor tr. Goethe Faust I. xxv. 255   I am free! No one shall enthrall me.
1937   Pacific Coast Jrnl. Nursing 33 150/2   We..have all the rights and privileges of citizens and with them the duty..to ameliorate the conditions which enthrall many of our people.
1990   tr. F. Engels in tr. K. Marx & F. Engels Coll. Wks. XXVI. 165   The man seized the reins in the house too, the woman was degraded, enthralled, became the slave of the man's lust.
2012   N. Oliver Vikings vi. 159   Historians differ in their opinions of just how many individuals might have been enthralled, taken and traded by Vikings.
1568   T. Drant tr. Gregory of Nazianzus Epigr. & Sentences sig. A.viiiv   ... Our sauiour Christe..To humble seruice did him selfe inthrall.
1583   P. Stubbes Second Pt. Anat. Abuses sig. E.2   Yea so greatly are the poore hereby inthralled, that they can hardly get a peece of ground to keepe.
1614   W. Raleigh Hist. World i. i. iii. §9. 46   Those people; which he [sc. the Turk] hath subiected and inthralled.
1636   E. Dacres tr. Machiavelli Disc. 1st Decade T. Livius iii. viii. 495   It is as hard and dangerous..to inthrall a people, that would live free.
1654   W. Prynne Seasonable, Legall & Hist. Vindic. 4   Perpetually inthral us under such an absolute Ægyptian bondage.
1719   E. Wardlaw Hardyknute 6   Now that Norse do's proudly boast Fair Scotland to inthrall.
1785   W. Carwithen Seasons of Life 102   Fate, tyrannic ruler, would inthrall Devoted man, till death decrees his fall.
1855   M. M. Busk Mediæval Popes, Emperors, Kings, & Crusaders II. 47   A people struggling..to recover their liberty from such alien conquerors, who..had subjugated, inthralled, and oppressed them.

1447–8—2012(Hide quotations)

 2. transitive. fig.

 a. To subjugate or control (a person, the mind, will, judgement, etc.), either by means of artifice, sorcery, seduction, etc., or by possessing positive qualities such as beauty and charm. Often with to, unto, indicating the controlling person or thing.

1562   A. Brooke tr. M. Bandello Tragicall Hist. Romeus & Iuliet f. 25   Knowe How much I am by loue enthralled vnto thee.
1576   T. Newton tr. L. Lemnie Touchstone of Complexions ii. ii. f. 105v   A man should not geeue ouer or enthrall his credite and honour to harlottes.
1600   Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream iii. i. 132   So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape.  
1695   Ld. Preston tr. Boethius Of Consol. Philos. iv. 177   Vice doth enthral Men's strongest Powers.
1718   M. Prior Solomon on Vanity ii, in Poems Several Occasions (new ed.) 451   She sooths, but never can enthrall my Mind.
1797   A. Radcliffe Italian II. vi. 179   He was inclined to believe, that a stratagem had enthralled him.
a1839   W. M. Praed Poems (1864) II. 123   And M—, in that simple dress, Enthralls us more by studying less.
1878   E. Jenkins Haverholme 136   He was enthralled by the wizard spell of the orator.
1954   Nation's Schools July 36/2   This newer force [sc. television] is so potent to enthrall mind and emotion that men must be grounded and steadied as never before.
1997   J. Gilbert Redeeming Culture i. 6   How could religion retrieve the soul of America if its mind was enthralled by science?
2007   C. Salaman in tr. ‘Hermes Trismegistus’ Asclepius 18   Education, instead of freeing the mind, helps to enthral it.
1566   T. Drant tr. Horace Medicinable Morall sig. Av   Thou..doste thy selfe in thralle Unto thy lowte.
1603   S. Daniel Def. Ryme in Panegyrike (new ed.) sig. G5v   Seeking to please our eare, we inthrall our iudgement.
a1610   J. Healey tr. Theophrastus Characters 53 in tr. Epictetus Manuall (1636)    This fellow perswades him not so much to inthrall himselfe to his Physicians directions.
1651   W. Davenant Gondibert i. ii. 20   Laura, the Duke's fair Neice inthrall'd his heart.
1772   T. Gibbons Christian Minister 53   A Mind by Lust deprav'd, by Lust inthrall'd.
1837   G. Bancroft Hist. U.S. II. xiii. 175   To inthrall his mind by the influences of religion.
1859   C. Kingsley Sir W. Raleigh in Misc. I. 30   The sense of beauty inthralls him at every step.
1906   North Amer. Rev. 183 244   There is no man or woman, however desperately inthralled by sin, who is not capable of regeneration.

1562—2007(Hide quotations)


 b. To capture or hold the attention of; to captivate, fascinate, hold spellbound. Also intransitive. Now the usual sense.

1839   London & Westm. Rev. Apr. 356   That absolute power over the keys [of the piano] which tempts its possessor to astonish and enthral his audience by inspirations of the moment.
1878   A. Brassey Voy. Sunbeam xv. 270   One more long last look, and then we turned our faces away from the scene that had enthralled us for so many hours.
1920   Musical Amer. 28 Feb. 38/1   In a program full of charm, Kreisler again manifested his ability to enthrall audiences.
1978   J. I. M. Stewart Full Term xxii. 250   Patullo Minor, the Secret Service Boy, had enthralled his school-fellows with his hazardous escapades.
1993   Herald (Glasgow) (Nexis) 3 Aug. 6   Even the wondrous Stipe's most indecipherable, most gnomic meanderings have a power to enthral which is entirely absent from the U2 lyrical canon.
2010   N. MacGregor Hist. World in 100 Objects lxxxiii. 540   He would have enthralled audiences in all-night performances.

1839—2010(Hide quotations)




  enˈthraller   n. a person who or thing which enthralls someone or something.

1594   R. Barnfield Affectionate Shepheard sig. Eiijv   O Enthraller of infranchizd harts.
1658   A. Cokayne Small Poems 149*   Her sweetest Mouth..[is] All hearts enthraller.
1792   W. O. Pughe tr. Llywarch Hen Heroic Elegies 111   Of Lloegyr he was the enthraller, he was their oppressor.
1860   Hutchings' Calif. Mag. Oct. 378/1   He..indited a sonnet to the charms of his fair enthraller.
1915   E. A. Vizetelly tr. E. Zola Dram-shop vii. 209   Tis I, Blavin, enthraller of the fair.
2002   Times 27 Apr. (Mag. section) 25/2   He has the potential to become a crowd enthraller.

1594—2002(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, September 2018).

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