Police often train to recover hostages taken by force, as in this exercise.

A hostage is a person seized by a criminal abductor in order to compel another party such as a relative, employer, law enforcement or government to act, or refrain from acting, in a certain way, often under threat of serious physical harm to the hostage(s) after expiration of an ultimatum. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica defines a hostage as "a person who is handed over by one of two belligerent parties to the other or seized as security for the carrying out of an agreement, or as a preventive measure against certain acts of war."[1]

A person who seizes one or more hostages is known as a hostage-taker; if the hostages are present voluntarily, then the receiver is known as a host.

(Video) Police demonstrate hostage response techniques in Japan.


The English word "hostage" derives from French ostage, modern otage, from Late Latin obsidaticum (Medieval Latin ostaticum, ostagium), the state of being an obses (plural obsides), "hostage",[1] from Latin obsideō ("I haunt/frequent/blockade/besiege"), but an etymological connection was later supposed with Latin hostis ("stranger," later "enemy").

Other Languages
العربية: رهينة
aragonés: Ostache
български: Заложник
brezhoneg: Gouestlad
català: Ostatge
čeština: Rukojmí
dansk: Gidsel
Deutsch: Geisel
eesti: Pantvang
español: Rehén
Esperanto: Ostaĝo
français: Otage
Gàidhlig: Bràigh (duine)
한국어: 볼모
հայերեն: Պատանդ
हिन्दी: बंधक
hrvatski: Talac
Bahasa Indonesia: Sandera
italiano: Ostaggio
עברית: בן ערובה
қазақша: Аманат
kurdî: Dîlgirtin
Кыргызча: Барымта
Nederlands: Gijzelaar
日本語: 人質
norsk: Gissel
norsk nynorsk: Gissel
polski: Zakładnik
português: Refém
русский: Заложник
Scots: Hostage
Simple English: Hostage
slovenščina: Talec
српски / srpski: Талац
svenska: Gisslan
Türkçe: Rehine
українська: Заручник
walon: Ostaedje
中文: 人质