bar·​ra·​try | \ ˈber-ə-trē How to pronounce barratry (audio) , ˈba-rə- \
plural barratries

Definition of barratry

1 : the purchase or sale of office or preferment in church or state
2 : an unlawful act or fraudulent breach of duty by a master of a ship or by the mariners to the injury of the owner of the ship or cargo
3 : the persistent incitement of litigation

Examples of barratry in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Tran withdrew her federal suit against Watts for identity theft, but filed another one in state court, along with the barratry claim against him and Hilliard, both of whom deny any wrongdoing. Francesca Mari, The Atlantic, "The Oil Spill, the Tort Lawyer, and the Clients Who Didn’t Exist," 16 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'barratry.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of barratry

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for barratry

Middle English (Scots) barratrie, from Anglo-French *baraterie, literally, deception, from Old French barater to be active, do business, cause strife, deceive, perhaps from Vulgar Latin *prattare, from Greek prattein, prassein to do — more at practical

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about barratry

Time Traveler for barratry

Time Traveler

The first known use of barratry was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for barratry

Cite this Entry

“Barratry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for barratry


bar·​ra·​try | \ ˈbar-ə-trē How to pronounce barratry (audio) \
plural barratries

Legal Definition of barratry

1 : an unlawful act or fraudulent breach of duty by a ship's master or crew that injures the interests of the ship's or cargo's owners often used in marine insurance policies

Note: Examples of barratry include embezzling cargo, stealing a ship's equipment, or willfully sinking a ship.

2 : the persistent incitement of litigation

History and Etymology for barratry

Middle French baraterie deception, from barater to deceive, cheat

Comments on barratry

What made you want to look up barratry? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!