Learner's definition of HOSTAGE
: a person who is captured by someone who demands that certain things be done before the captured person is freed
— sometimes used figuratively
The terrorists demanded a plane and a pilot in exchange for the hostages.
The hostage crisis is now entering its second week.
The passengers were taken hostage.
They were held hostage for several days.
a hostage to fortune
◊ In British English, a hostage to fortune is something (such as a promise or an action) that someone has made or done that may cause problems in the future. In U.S. English, this phrase is much less common and is usually understood to mean a person whose future success or failure is controlled by luck or fortune.