Ransom vs. Extortion: What's the Difference?
Ransom refers to the money or payment demanded for the release of a captive or return of stolen property. Extortion is the act of obtaining money, goods, or services through coercion, threats, or intimidation.
Ransom is the sum of money or other valuables demanded or paid to secure the release of a person, property, or information. Extortion is a broader term, encompassing the act of forcing someone to give up money, goods, or some advantage under duress, often involving threats or intimidation. In essence, ransom is a subset of extortion but is specific to scenarios involving kidnapping or theft.
Grammatically, both ransom and extortion are primarily used as nouns in American English. While "extortion" has a corresponding verb form, "to extort," the word "ransom" is both a noun and a verb, with the verb form meaning "to hold for ransom." In their respective plurals, "ransoms" refers to multiple instances of ransom, and "extortions" indicates multiple acts of coercion for financial gain.
While ransom payments are typically made to secure the release of a person or item from captivity, extortion covers a wider range of coercive practices. This could involve blackmail, where payment is demanded to keep compromising information secret. Extortion could also involve threats to property or even threats of violence. Ransom is generally a one-time payment, while extortion can be ongoing, particularly if it involves a situation like protection rackets or regular demands for money.
Ransom often implies an illegal detainment or the taking of hostages and is a criminal act in virtually all jurisdictions. Extortion, too, is a criminal act but may not always involve illegal detainment or kidnapping. For example, extortion can take place over the phone or via email, where threats are made but no one is physically detained. Both acts are illegal and punishable by law, but their contexts and methods can be quite different.
Payment for release of captive or property
Coercion to obtain money, goods, or service
Part of Speech
Noun and verb
Noun, verb ("to extort")
Specific to kidnapping/theft
Broader, includes various coerci
Ransom and Extortion Definitions
Payment to recover stolen property.
They paid a ransom to get their stolen art back.
Forcing compliance for advantage.
The corrupt official was found guilty of extortion.
Financial demand in a kidnapping.
The ransom note was left on the doorstep.
Unlawful demands with menaces.
Extortion by threatening to release personal information is common.
Money for release of a captive.
The kidnappers demanded a $1 million ransom.
Threats for financial gain.
He was arrested for extortion after blackmailing his boss.
Fee for safe retrieval.
The company paid a ransom to unlock their data.
Unjust exaction of resources.
Extortionate rent hikes forced tenants to move out.
The release of property or a person in return for payment of a demanded price.
Coercion for money or goods.
The mob was involved in extortion schemes.
The price or payment demanded or paid for such release.
Illegal use of one's official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage.
(Christianity) A redemption from sin and its consequences.
The act or an instance of extorting something, as by psychological pressure.
To obtain the release of by paying a certain price.
An excessive or exorbitant charge.
To release after receiving such a payment.
The practice of extorting money or other property by the use of force or threats.
(Christianity) To deliver from sin and its consequences.
The act of extorting; the act or practice of wresting anything from a person by force, by threats, or by any undue exercise of power; undue exaction; overcharge.
Money paid for the freeing of a hostage.
They were held for two million dollars ransom.
They were held to ransom.
The offense committed by an officer who corruptly claims and takes, as his fee, money, or other thing of value, that is not due, or more than is due, or before it is due.
The release of a captive, or of captured property, by payment of a consideration.
Prisoners hopeless of ransom
That which is extorted or exacted by force.
A sum paid for the pardon of some great offence and the discharge of the offender; also, a fine paid in lieu of corporal punishment.
An exorbitant charge
(obsolete) To deliver, especially in context of sin or relevant penalties.
Unjust exaction (as by the misuse of authority);
The extortion by dishonest officials of fees for performing their sworn duty
To pay a price to set someone free from captivity or punishment.
To ransom prisoners from an enemy
The felonious act of extorting money (as by threats of violence)
To exact a ransom (payment) in exchange for the freedom of.
The release of a captive, or of captured property, by payment of a consideration; redemption; as, prisoners hopeless of ransom.
The money or price paid for the redemption of a prisoner, or for goods captured by an enemy; payment for freedom from restraint, penalty, or forfeit.
Thy ransom paid, which man from death redeems.
His captivity in Austria, and the heavy ransom he paid for his liberty.
A sum paid for the pardon of some great offense and the discharge of the offender; also, a fine paid in lieu of corporal punishment.
To redeem from captivity, servitude, punishment, or forfeit, by paying a price; to buy out of servitude or penalty; to rescue; to deliver; as, to ransom prisoners from an enemy.
To exact a ransom for, or a payment on.
Such lands as he had rule of he ransomed them so grievously, and would tax the men two or three times in a year.
Money demanded for the return of a captured person
Payment for the release of someone
The act of freeing from captivity or punishment
Exchange or buy back for money; under threat
Monetary condition for freedom.
The pirates set a ransom for the captured sailors.
Is Ransom always illegal?
Ransom is generally illegal, as it involves unlawful detainment or theft.
Is Extortion always illegal?
Extortion is illegal because it involves coercion and threats for gain.
How do Ransom and Extortion differ?
Ransom is a subset of extortion, specific to kidnappings or thefts.
What is Ransom?
Ransom is the payment demanded for the release of a captive or return of stolen property.
What is the verb form of Extortion?
The verb form of extortion is "to extort."
What is Extortion?
Extortion is obtaining money, goods, or services through coercion, threats, or intimidation.
Is Ransom a form of Extortion?
Yes, ransom can be considered a specific type of extortion.
Can Extortion occur online?
Yes, extortion can occur online, often as "cyber-extortion."
Is the act of paying a Ransom illegal?
Paying a ransom may not be illegal, but it is generally discouraged by authorities.
Can Extortion involve physical threats?
Yes, extortion can involve threats of physical harm.
Is Ransom only about money?
Ransom usually involves money, but can also involve other forms of payment.
Who are typical targets of Ransom?
Kidnapping victims, companies facing data breaches, and stolen property owners can be targets.
What are the plurals of Ransom and Extortion?
The plurals are "ransoms" and "extortions."
Can Ransom also be a verb?
Yes, "to ransom" means to hold someone or something for ransom.
Who are typical targets of Extortion?
Businesses, public figures, and ordinary individuals can be targets of extortion.
Written bySawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited bySumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.