com·man·deer | \ˌkä-mən-ˈdir \
commandeered; commandeering; commandeers

Definition of commandeer 

transitive verb

1a : to compel to perform military service Civilians were commandeered by the army and forced to fight.

b : to seize for military purposes The soldiers commandeered civilian vehicles to help transport the injured.

2 : to take arbitrary or forcible possession of The city commandeered 60 acres of the property by eminent domain for a new high school.

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Did You Know?

Military forces have always had the power to commandeer houses. The Declaration of Independence complains about the way the British soldiers have done it, and the third Amendment to the Constitution states that the commandeering of people's houses shall be done only in a way prescribed by law. Almost anything—food, supplies, livestock, etc.—can be militarily commandeered when the need arises. But you don't have to be in the military for someone to "pull rank" on you: Your father may commandeer the car just when you were about to take it out for the evening, your teacher may commandeer your cell phone as you're texting in the middle of class, or your older sister may commandeer the TV remote to watch some lousy dancing competition.

Examples of commandeer in a Sentence

The soldiers commandeered civilian vehicles to help transport the injured. an airliner commandeered by terrorists

Recent Examples on the Web

On the other, it lost by being commandeered by that very same company. Benjamin Shull, WSJ, "‘Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out’ Review: Windy City Windfall," 5 July 2018 California’s local law enforcement cannot be commandeered and used by the Trump administration to tear families apart, undermine our safety and wreak havoc on our economy. Scott Wilson, Washington Post, "‘A rogue state’," 13 May 2018 The occupation, led by the Bundy family, drew hordes of militia members who commandeered government buildings and vehicles in tactical gear and long guns, promising to defend the family. Eileen Sullivan, New York Times, "Trump Pardons Oregon Ranchers Whose Case Inspired Wildlife Refuge Takeover," 10 July 2018 By radically remaking the advertising business and commandeering news distribution, Google and Facebook have damaged the economics of journalism. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Death of the Public Square," 6 July 2018 The Supreme Court has said that the federal government may not commandeer state resources to achieve federal objectives. Adam Liptak, Anchorage Daily News, "Supreme Court strikes down ban on commercial sports betting, paving the way for more states to allow it," 14 May 2018 But even the Democratic candidates complain that Hogan has commandeered their issues, including most recently making community college tuition-free for low- and middle-income residents. Paul Schwartzman, Washington Post, "A scrum of Democrats vies for voter attention in quest to oust Gov. Hogan," 15 May 2018 But this is a distinction without a difference, as Justice Samuel Alito explained in the majority’s unequivocal opinion restating the anti-commandeering rule. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Issue Is Liberty, Not Gambling," 14 May 2018 In a 7-2 opinion authored by Justice Alito, the Court found that PASPA runs afoul of the anti-commandeering principle, a Tenth Amendment-adjacent concept that prohibits the federal government from compelling state officials to enforce federal law. Jay Willis, GQ, "The Brave New World of Legalized Sports Betting, Explained," 14 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of commandeer

1881, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for commandeer

Afrikaans kommandeer, from French commander to command, from Old French comander

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Statistics for commandeer

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for commandeer

The first known use of commandeer was in 1881

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English Language Learners Definition of commandeer

: to take (something, such as a vehicle or building) by force especially for military purposes

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Comments on commandeer

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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