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


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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 But acts to commandeer the government — not petition or transform it — are not unprecedented. NBC News, "The Trump-fueled riot shocked America. To some, it was a long time coming.," 16 Jan. 2021 No aspiring dictator can commandeer enough military power to be able to dominate an entire country that refuses to recognize him. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "The Coup Stage of Donald Trump’s Presidency," 20 Nov. 2020 More than monosodium glutamate, the most effective flavor enhancer to commandeer my taste buds is nostalgia. Los Angeles Times, "Twenty years later, the memory of Thanksgiving leftovers in Ensenada still nourishes the soul," 19 Nov. 2020 Trump had tried to commandeer the nation's airwaves at a time when the evening newscasts are shown on the East Coast, after a day when the slow drip of vote counting revealed his leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia dwindling. David Bauder, Star Tribune, "Networks cut away from Trump's White House address," 5 Nov. 2020 Illinois officials similarly spent nearly $1.8 million chartering flights from China to airlift P.P.E. in secret, afraid that the Trump administration might otherwise commandeer it. Doug Bock Clark, New York Times, "Inside the Chaotic, Cutthroat Gray Market for N95 Masks," 17 Nov. 2020 That’d allow the outgoing president to commandeer a potential rival to Fox without really lifting a finger. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "US right-wing media is in a civil war after Trump’s defeat," 12 Nov. 2020 But there are plenty of other threats that have yet to commandeer space in our daily lives, and still feel abstract to most Californians. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential California: A toxic undersea dumping ground," 27 Oct. 2020 The dog wants to be free of its leash and bound around in the grass with the other dogs just as the girls wanted to break free of my hand to commandeer the playground toys. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Investors look to buck a four-week losing streak, sending global stocks higher," 28 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for commandeer

Time Traveler

The first known use of commandeer was in 1881

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Statistics for commandeer

Last Updated

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Commandeer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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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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Nglish: Translation of commandeer for Spanish Speakers

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