When using the word "incarcerate", how are you supposed to say where you incarcerate people?

You can say something like this, using the word "confine".

"I confine a bird in a cage."

"His parents confined him to his room for a week."

And I assume that you can use "to" or "in" to specify where when using the word "incarcerate" just like the examples I gave.

I've done my research. But it seems that it's not common or even possible to specify where when using the word. Maybe I haven't done my research enough to find out though.

Can you specify where you incarcerate people with "in" or "to" or any other prepositions?

I was told that I should include the research I've done.




And Google's Dictionary Search Box of the search results that appears at the top.

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    Please include the research you’ve done, not just say that you have done some. This prevents us from doing the same research and helps avoid general reference questions. Most good dictionaries have examples of the use of incarcerate in sentences. Aug 3, 2018 at 20:09
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    @user I'm not used to this. But in spite of that, obviously I was lazy. "Most good dictionaries have examples of the use of incarcerate in sentences." You're right. I should've done my research more thoroughly instead of asking this question. Sorry about that.
    – user285762
    Aug 3, 2018 at 21:18

3 Answers 3


Strictly speaking, the formal meaning of 'incarcerate' means 'to put or keep someone in prison or in a place used as a prison', so in that use of the word, the only place it is possible to incarcerate someone is in a prison. In many cases using this meaning it is unnecessary to specify the prison - "There are many issues when filing a tax return if your spouse is incarcerated". However it might be desired to specify a particular prison or type of prison, and one would use the prepositions 'in' or 'at', e.g. in an adult prison, a federal or state prison, a juvenile correction facility, etc. One could be incarcerated at a place or facility - "children whose mothers are incarcerated at the Decatur and Logan Correctional Centers", "A majority (82%) of women incarcerated at MCF-Shakopee are of reproductive age", "Six Inmates Incarcerated at New Orleans Old Parish Prison"

A looser usage of the word means 'to keep someone in a closed place and prevent them from leaving it'. In such a use, the place is specified, e.g. in a stuck elevator, in a cellar, in a vehicle and so on, again, the preposition mostly used is 'in'.

Incarcerate (Cambridge)


The preposition used with incarcerate is most commonly "in".

Oxford Living Dictionaries
Check the example sentences there. The only preposition used with the word in the examples is "in".

However I see no problem with using "at".

"He is incarcerated at Sing Sing prison."

Unfortunately I can't can't support this with evidence, as an internet search returns things like:

"incarcerated at record rates"
"African Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of whites"

Check this forum thread at Word Reference forums where the topic is whether the word is used with "in" or "at".
Incarcerate "in" or "at"

Other prepositions I see no problem using are "within" and "inside". I'm fairly sure there are others you may be able to use acceptably.


incarcerate Vocabulary.com

lock up or confine, in or as in a jail

So, you send one to jail, put one in jail, or a court can remand one to jail


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