boot·​leg·​ger ˈbüt-ˌle-gər How to pronounce bootlegger (audio)
plural bootleggers
: one who bootlegs something: such as
: a person who makes or sells alcoholic liquor illegally
… in sleepy little St-Hilaire, once a Prohibition boom town, from which bootleggers smuggled truckloads of whisky into the U.S. … Will Ferguson
Most of us associate the pocket flask with the Roaring Twenties era of the bootlegger and the speakeasy … Linda Rosenkrantz
: a person who produces, reproduces, or distributes something (such as a recording) illicitly or without authorization
As part of his job, Schoenfeld is charged with ferreting out record bootleggers and protecting the copyright interests of record labels. Holly Gleason
… the conversation ran from how the different companies project returns on direct mail to efforts to crack down on software bootleggers. Leslie Brokaw

Word History

First Known Use

1886, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bootlegger was in 1886

Dictionary Entries Near bootlegger

Cite this Entry

“Bootlegger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

More from Merriam-Webster on bootlegger

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.