cab·​o·​tage ˈka-bə-ˌtäzh How to pronounce cabotage (audio)
: trade or transport in coastal waters or airspace or between two points within a country
: the right to engage in cabotage

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Coastlines were once so important to the French that they came up with a verb to name the act of sailing along a coast: caboter. That verb gave rise to the French noun cabotage, which named trade or transport along a coast. In the 16th century, the French legally limited their lucrative coastal trade, declaring that only French ships could trade in French ports. They called the right to conduct such trading cabotage too. Other nations soon embraced both the concept of trade restrictions and the French name for trading rights, and expanded the idea to inland trade as well.

Examples of cabotage in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But his economic team has improved Brazil’s investment climate, opened the telecom market, and rescinded cabotage laws that restrict trade. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 29 Sep. 2022 This year a ban on cruises in Canada until February 2022, coupled with U.S. cabotage laws (which deal with trade or transport in coastal waters), appears to have scuttled the season for a second time. Fran Golden, Anchorage Daily News, 26 Apr. 2021 The case involved the U.S. law that generally prohibits a foreign airline from carrying passengers between two cities in the U.S., which is called cabotage. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, 30 Mar. 2018

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

Word History


French, from caboter to sail along the coast

First Known Use

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cabotage was in 1801


Dictionary Entries Near cabotage

Cite this Entry

“Cabotage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

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