cab·​o·​tage | \ ˈka-bə-ˌtäzh How to pronounce cabotage (audio) \

Definition of cabotage

1 : trade or transport in coastal waters or airspace or between two points within a country
2 : the right to engage in cabotage

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Did You Know?

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. Later, English speakers also applied cabotage to the rights that allowed domestic airlines to travel within national boundaries but that prevented foreign carriers from doing so.

Examples of cabotage in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web 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, "DOT fines Qantas up to $125K in dispute over the foreign airline's flights within U.S.," 30 Mar. 2018

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

First Known Use of cabotage

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cabotage

French, from caboter to sail along the coast

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The first known use of cabotage was in 1801

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Cite this Entry

“Cabotage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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