a kind of prison; a building for the confinement of persons held in lawful custody, especially for minor offenses or with reference to some future judicial proceeding.
alternative forms: gaol This jail i count the house of liberty. (Milton) jail bird, a prisoner; one who has been confined in prison. Jail delivery, the release of prisoners from jail, either legally or by violence. Jail delivery commission. See gaol.
(Science: medicine) jail fever, typhus fever, or a disease resembling it, generated in jails and other places crowded with people; called also hospital fever, and ship fever. Jail liberties, or jail limits, a space or district around a jail within which an imprisoned debtor was, on certain conditions, allowed to go at large. Jail lock, a peculiar form of padlock; called also Scandinavian lock.
Origin: oe. Jaile, gail, gayhol, OF. Gaole, gaiole, jaiole, f. Geole, LL. Gabiola, dim. Of gabia cage, for L. Cavea cavity, cage. See cage.