com·​man·​deer | \ ˌkä-mən-ˈdir How to pronounce commandeer (audio) \
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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Synonyms for commandeer


hijack (also highjack)

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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

Assisted by a Senate messenger, an African American named Tobias Simpson, Machen commandeered a wagon from a District resident and began loading it with bundles of Senate papers., "Interactive quiz: Could you pass the PARCC standardized tests?," 27 Aug. 2019 The ride takes guests on a high-speed journey through the Forbidden Forrest, where Hagrid has commandeered an ancient castle. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Muggles wait 10 hours, through rain storms, to ride new Hagrid roller coaster at Wizarding World of Harry Potter," 14 June 2019 Two hijacked planes flew through the top of each of the Twin Towers in New York, one commandeered by terrorists crash-landed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and another one struck the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Staff,, "Stevenson high school holds 9/11 remembrance ceremony in ‘Peace’ garden," 12 Sep. 2019 The announcements, of course, coincided with the times planes commandeered by terrorists struck one World Trade tower, then the other. Jennifer Brett, ajc, "Atlanta airport goes quiet and still in memory of 9/11," 11 Sep. 2019 The Giants were 9-2 in the second half and had to face two foes: the Cubs and their fans, who commandeered the ballpark for the first seven innings. Henry Schulman,, "Giants keep rolling with late, big comeback against Central-leading Cubs," 23 July 2019 An elderly woman in a wheelchair commandeered by her husband rolled in expecting to hear Elvis after seeing the King’s Bible by the entrance. Washington Post, "The Museum of the Bible: The last place in D.C. you might expect to hear Queen, Kanye and the Clash," 24 June 2019 Iranian officials had threatened to seize a British ship in the Persian Gulf after U.K. forces last week commandeered an Iranian ship off the coast of Gibraltar. David Hodari, WSJ, "OPEC Maintains World Oil Demand Forecast as Supply Concerns Continue," 11 July 2019 But in the intervening months, engineers from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) had implemented a new kind of security mechanism — a software system that couldn’t be commandeered. Quanta Magazine, "Hacker-Proof Code Confirmed," 20 Sep. 2016

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

1 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for commandeer

The first known use of commandeer was in 1881

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More Definitions for commandeer



English Language Learners Definition of commandeer

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on commandeer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with commandeer

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for commandeer

Spanish Central: Translation of commandeer

Nglish: Translation of commandeer for Spanish Speakers

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