- Abiathar only son of Ahimelech to avoid Saul’s slaughter. [O.T.: I Samuel 22:20]
- Ariadne Minos’s daughter; gave Theseus thread by which to escape labyrinth. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 31]
- Cerambus transformed into beetle in order to fly above Zeus’s deluge. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 55]
- Christian flees the City of Destruction. [Br. Lit.: Pilgrim’s Progress ]
- Daedalus escaped from Crete by flying on wings made of wax and feathers. [Gk. Myth.: Benét, 244]
- Dantès, Edmond after fifteen years in the Chateau d’If he escapes by being thrown into the sea as another prisoner’s corpse. [Fr. Lit.: Dumas The Count of Monte Cristo ]
- Deucalion on Prometheus’ advice, survived flood in ark. [Gk. Myth.: Gaster, 84–85]
- Dunkirk 340,000 British troops evacuated against long odds (1941). [Eur. Hist.: Van Doren, 475]
- Exodus Jewish captives escape Pharaoh’s bondage. [O.T.: Exodus]
- Fugitive, The (Dr. Richard Kimble) tale of wrongfully-accused man fleeing imprisonment. [TV: Terrace, I, 290–291]
- Hansel and Gretel woodcutter’s children barely escape witch. [Ger. Fairy Tale: Grimm, 56]
- Hegira (Hijrah) Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina (622). [Islamic Hist.: EB, V: 39–40]
- Houdini, Harry (1874–1926) shackled magician could extricate himself from any entrapment. [Am. Hist.: Wallechinsky, 196]
- Ishmael the only one to escape when the Pequod is wrecked by the white whale. [Am. Lit.: Melville, Moby Dick ]
- Jim Miss Watson’s runaway slave; Huck’s traveling companion. [Am. Lit.: Huckleberry Finn ]
- Jonah delivered from fish’s belly after three days. [O.T.: Jonah 1, 2]
- Noah with family and animals, escapes the Deluge. [O.T.: Genesis 8:15–19]
- Papillon one of the few to escape from Devil’s Island. [Fr. Hist.: Papillon ]
- parting of the Red Sea God divides the waters for Israelites’ flight. [O.T.: Exodus 14:21–29]
- Phyxios epithet of Zeus as god of escape. [Gk. Myth.: Kravitz, 94]
- Robin, John, and Harold Hensman run away from “petticoat government” to live in forest. [Children’s Lit.: Brendon Chase, Fisher, 306]
- Strange Cargo prisoners escape by boat from Devil’s Island, accompanied by a mysterious stranger. [Am. Cinema: Strange Cargo ]
- Theseus escapes labyrinth with aid from Ariadne. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 31]
- Tyler, Toby runs away from cruel Uncle Daniel to join circus. [Children’s Lit.: Toby Tyler ]
- Ziusudra Sumerian Noah. [Sumerian Legend: Benét, 1116]
The criminal offense of fleeing legal custody without authority or consent.
In order for an individual who has been accused of escape to be convicted, all elements of the crime must be proved. Such elements are governed by the specific language of each state statute. The general common-law principles may be incorporated within a statute, or the law may depart from them in various ways. Federal statutes also make it a crime to escape from federal custody.
Ordinarily, the crime of escape is committed either by the prisoner or by the individual who has the responsibility for keeping the prisoner in custody. The custodian of the prisoner is not ordinarily a warden for the entire prison, but is generally the person who has immediate responsibility for guarding the prisoner. Certain states currently punish negligent guards administratively, such as by divesting them of their rank or seniority, or by firing them. Criminal punishment is generally reserved for guards who actively cooperate in facilitating a prisoner's escape.
An escape takes place when the prisoner is able to remove himself or herself from the lawful control of an authorized custodian. An individual can be found guilty of escape even in the event that his or her initial arrest was wrongful, since an unlawful arrest must properly be argued in court. The theory is that in order for the process of justice to operate in an orderly manner, a prisoner must not be given the privilege of determining whether or not he or she should be confined. If an arrest is totally unlawful, however, an individual cannot be guilty of escape. This might occur, for example, if a store security guard has no grounds to arrest a shoplifter but does so anyway.
In order to prove that a criminal escape took place, it is ordinarily unnecessary to show that the accused party was actually confined within prison walls. Once an arrest has taken place, the prisoner cannot leave of his or her own volition. Frequently, the degree of the crime is increased when the escape is from a particular kind of confinement. For example, the law might deal more harshly with an individual who escapes from armed prison guards while working on a chain gang than with an individual who runs away while an arresting officer interrogates witnesses. In other jurisdictions, the degree of criminal escape is dependent upon the nature of the crime that initially precipitated the prisoner's confinement.
It is ordinarily necessary to prove that an escaped prisoner was actually attempting to evade legal confinement. For example, if the prisoner went to the wrong place by mistake, he or she will probably not be found guilty of a criminal escape.
Other crimes are related to escape, such as the offense of aiding escape, which is committed by a person who, for example, smuggles a prisoner out of jail. Ordinarily a conviction for aiding escape is punishable by a sentence for the number of years specified by the criminal statute.
In some states it is a separate crime to harbor or conceal an escaped prisoner. To obtain a conviction against the individual accused of this crime, it must be shown that the individual believed that he or she was aiding an escaped prisoner with the intent to help him or her get clear of lawful custody. It does not constitute a defense to assert that the prisoner never should have been arrested.
Prison breach is an escape committed through the use of force and is more heinous than simple escape. It is not a separate crime, however, and the state may regard it as a more serious degree of criminal escape.
An attempt to commit escape or any of the related crimes is punishable, even though such an attempt might not have been successful.
es·cape / iˈskāp/ • v. [intr.] break free from confinement or control: two burglars have just escaped from prison. ∎ [tr.] elude or get free from (someone): he drove along I-84 to escape the police. ∎ succeed in avoiding or eluding something dangerous, unpleasant, or undesirable: the driver escaped with a broken knee [tr.] a baby boy narrowly escaped death. ∎ [tr.] fail to be noticed or remembered by (someone): the name escaped him. ∎ (of a gas, liquid, or heat) leak from a container. ∎ [tr.] (of words or sounds) issue involuntarily or inadvertently from (someone or their lips): a sob escaped her lips.• n. an act of breaking free from confinement or control: the story of his escape from a POW camp. ∎ an act of successfully avoiding something dangerous, unpleasant, or unwelcome: the couple had a narrow escape from serious injury. ∎ a form of temporary distraction from reality or routine: romantic novels should present an escape from the dreary realities of life. ∎ a leakage of gas, liquid, or heat from a container. ∎ (also escape key) Comput. a key on a computer keyboard that either interrupts the current operation or converts subsequent characters to a control sequence. ∎ a garden plant or pet animal that has gone wild and (esp. in plants) become naturalized.
So sb. XIV. In earliest use — OF. eschap, later f. the vb. escapade escape, runaway flight XVII; flighty piece of conduct XIX. escapee XIX. escapement in a clock or watch. XVIII. — F. échappement; the ref. is to the ‘escape’ of the toothed wheel from its detention by the pallet.
- a mania for running away.
- Obsolete, swimming away, especially escaping by swimming.
- the art or technique of escaping from chains, locked trunks, etc., especially when exhibited as a form of entertainment. —escapist , n., adj.
- fleeing from justice, as by a criminal.
- a flight or escape to safety.