inmate vs prisoner

zaffy

Senior Member
Polish
A man was standing in front of a prison and he could see some people through the fence. He said "I can some inmates over there".
Now, why not "prisoners"? Could he have used "prisoners" as well? What difference do you sense between the two words?
 
  • MedievalElf

    Senior Member
    British English
    Prisoner is less specific. I am a prisoner in my own home because of covid. Inmate, is used for someone who resides in a prison.
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    I don't know about other languages, but English tends to develop an array of euphemisms for subjects with unpleasant connotations. Over time, these begin to feel tainted, and they get down-graded and a new euphemism is coined. It will hold sway for a while, and will then be replaced by another.
    Lame > crippled > disabled > differently-abled is one such progression. Negro > coloured > black > African American is another.
    So, 'inmate' is the current acceptable face we put on 'prisoner'. Prisoner > convict > inmate.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I don't know about other languages, but English tends to develop an array of euphemisms for subjects with unpleasant connotations.
    I see. In Polish those are "prisoners" and they are locked up in "prison".
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    We have prisons, penitentiaries and correctional centers/facilities.

    It depends on the specific institution and where you are.

    In the U.S., in general discussion, in causal speech, prison is the common word.

    "My uncle is in prison right now."

    People in prison are generally called inmates. To me, prisoner tends to suggest someone held outside the legal process. People kidnapped are held prisoner.
     
    Top