1520s, "to enthrall with charm, overpower and hold by excellence or beauty," from Late Latin captivatus, past participle of captivare "to take, capture," from captivus "caught, taken prisoner," from captus, past participle of capere "to take, hold, seize" (from PIE root *kap- "to grasp").
The classical literal sense of "seize by force" (1550s) is rare or obsolete in English, which uses capture (q.v.) for that. Latin captare "to take, hold" also had a transferred sense of "to entice, entrap, allure." Related: Captivated; captivating. An earlier verb in English was captive (v.), late 15c., from Old French captiver or directly from Latin captivare.
updated on April 17, 2022