verb (used without object), es·caped, es·cap·ing.

  1. to slip or get away, as from confinement or restraint; gain or regain liberty: to escape from jail.
  2. to slip away from pursuit or peril; avoid capture, punishment, or any threatened evil.
  3. to issue from a confining enclosure, as a fluid.
  4. to slip away; fade: The words escaped from memory.
  5. Botany. (of an originally cultivated plant) to grow wild.
  6. (of a rocket, molecule, etc.) to achieve escape velocity.

verb (used with object), es·caped, es·cap·ing.

  1. to slip away from or elude (pursuers, captors, etc.): He escaped the police.
  2. to succeed in avoiding (any threatened or possible danger or evil): She escaped capture.
  3. to elude (one’s memory, notice, search, etc.).
  4. to fail to be noticed or recollected by (a person): Her reply escapes me.
  5. (of a sound or utterance) to slip from or be expressed by (a person, one’s lips, etc.) inadvertently.


  1. an act or instance of escaping.
  2. the fact of having escaped.
  3. a means of escaping: We used the tunnel as an escape.
  4. avoidance of reality: She reads mystery stories as an escape.
  5. leakage, as of water or gas, from a pipe or storage container.
  6. Botany. a plant that originated in cultivated stock and is now growing wild.
  7. Physics, Rocketry. the act of achieving escape velocity.
  8. (usually initial capital letter) Computers. Escape key.


  1. for or providing an escape: an escape route.


  1. a key (frequently labeled Esc) found on most computer keyboards and used for any of various functions, as to interrupt or cancel the current process or running program, or to close a pop-up window.


  1. to get away or break free from (confinements, captors, etc)the lion escaped from the zoo
  2. to manage to avoid (imminent danger, punishment, evil, etc)to escape death
  3. (intr usually foll by from) (of gases, liquids, etc) to issue gradually, as from a crack or fissure; seep; leakwater was escaping from the dam
  4. (tr) to elude; be forgotten bythe actual figure escapes me
  5. (tr) to be articulated inadvertently or involuntarilya roar escaped his lips
  6. (intr) (of cultivated plants) to grow wild


  1. the act of escaping or state of having escaped
  2. avoidance of injury, harm, etca narrow escape
    1. a means or way of escape
    2. (as modifier)an escape route
  3. a means of distraction or relief, esp from reality or boredomangling provides an escape for many city dwellers
  4. a gradual outflow; leakage; seepage
  5. Also called: escape valve, escape cock a valve that releases air, steam, etc, above a certain pressure; relief valve or safety valve
  6. a plant that was originally cultivated but is now growing wild

c.1300, from Old North French escaper, Old French eschaper (12c., Modern French échapper), from Vulgar Latin *excappare, literally “get out of one’s cape, leave a pursuer with just one’s cape,” from Latin ex- “out of” (see ex-) + Late Latin cappa “mantle” (see cap (n.)). Related: Escaped; escaping.


c.1400, from escape (v.); earlier eschap (c.1300). Mental/emotional sense is from 1853. Escape clause in the legal sense first recorded 1945.


  1. A gradual effusion from an enclosure; a leakage.
  2. A cardiological situation in which one pacemaker defaults or an atrioventricular conduction fails, and another pacemaker sets the heart’s pace for one or more beats.

In addition to the idiom beginning with escape

  • escape notice

also see:

  • narrow escape
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