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

Examples of bootlegger in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web For years, the Templeton story centered around the period during Prohibition when bootleggers set up shop in Iowa, with the brand even claiming that the original Templeton rye whiskey was Al Capone’s preferred drink. Jonah Flicker, Robb Report, 5 Apr. 2024 While Formula 1 evolved from international competitions between governments, car manufacturers, and millionaires, NASCAR started out as races between moonshiners and bootleggers who modified cars to outrun cops. David Hill, Rolling Stone, 14 Jan. 2024 Klansmen raided bootlegger operations, then had the gall to bill cities $11,200 for their services. Patt Morrisoncolumnist, Los Angeles Times, 17 Jan. 2023 The legendary Hollywood actress early in her career plays a character aptly named Lily Powers, a tenacious daughter of a brutal bootlegger played by Robert Barrat, who pushed her as a teen into prostitution. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Nov. 2023 That April, another local bootlegger, Kelsie Morrison (Louis Cancelmi), and Bryan Burkhart were charged with Anna's murder. Megan McCluskey, TIME, 20 Oct. 2023 Sturgill Simpson Another noteworthy country singer-songwriter, Sturgill Simpson plays the bootlegger Henry Grammer. Rob Ledonne, New York Times, 21 Oct. 2023 In the 1920s, Moonlight Beach was popular with sunbathers, race-horse aficionados and bootleggers, who used the beach as a hooch drop-off point. San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Oct. 2023 Which means the bootleggers are squeezed out by the monied interests. John Koopman, Rolling Stone, 21 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bootlegger.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 12 Apr. 2024.

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