contraband

noun
con·​tra·​band | \ˈkän-trə-ˌband \

Definition of contraband 

1 : illegal or prohibited traffic in goods : smuggling … persons the most bound in duty to prevent contraband— Edmund Burke

2 : goods or merchandise whose importation, exportation, or possession is forbidden Border police searched the car for drugs and other contraband. also : smuggled goods

3 : a slave who during the American Civil War escaped to or was brought within the Union lines

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Other Words from contraband

contraband adjective

Did You Know?

Contraband first appeared in English in the early 1500s as a borrowing of Italian contrabbando. This Italian word can be traced to the Medieval Latin word contrabannum, a combination of "contra-" ("against") and "bannum" ("decree"). "Bannum" is Germanic in origin and is related to Old High German bannan ("to command"). "Bannan" is also related to Middle English "bannen" ("to summon or to curse"), the source of the English verb "ban" (which now means "to prohibit" but which once also meant "to curse").

Examples of contraband in a Sentence

The border police searched the car for drugs and other contraband.

Recent Examples on the Web

As Kraft videographers swept Mayo trying to get funny footage of locals surrendering now-contraband mayonnaise from their fridges, a Florida First Amendment lawyer wasn't chuckling. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "Mayo, Florida Was Just Renamed for a Different Condiment," 24 Sep. 2018 The idea is to start with something of low value—in their case, a bag of contraband fireworks—and trade it for a slightly more valuable thing and then trade that thing up, all the way, in their case, to a shiny green moped. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Survivors and Strivers," 18 Oct. 2018 In one Radio Liberty report, guards described hours of flights using DJI drones dropping multiple cartons of contraband cigarettes. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "What’s With This Weird Drone Stuck in a Ukrainian Tree?," 6 Sep. 2018 Last year, of the more than 247,340 visitors to the city’s 14 jails, fewer than 0.1 percent — 305 people — were charged with smuggling in contraband. Jan Ransom, New York Times, "Women Describe Invasive Strip Searches on Visits to City Jails," 26 Apr. 2018 Use of the devices has increased as a way to deliver contraband to prisons across the U.S. Several recent instances in South Carolina illustrate the problem. Meg Kinnard, The Seattle Times, "How to keep contraband from flying into prisons? South Carolina turns to drones," 26 May 2018 In the case of the Mexican 17-year-old, the lawsuit said a staff member who suspected him of possessing contraband threw him to the ground and forcibly tore off his clothes for an impromptu strip search. USA TODAY, "Young immigrants detained in Virginia center allege abuse," 21 June 2018 In the case of the Mexican 17-year-old, the lawsuit said a staff member who suspected him of possessing contraband threw him to the ground and forcibly tore off his clothes for an impromptu strip search. CBS News, "Young immigrants detained in Virginia allege they were beaten while cuffed, left nude in cells," 21 June 2018 In the case of the Mexican 17-year-old, the lawsuit said a staff member who suspected him of possessing contraband threw him to the ground and forcibly tore off his clothes for an impromptu strip search. Michael Biesecker, chicagotribune.com, "Beatings, bags over their heads, racial slurs: Young migrants detained in Virginia allege abuse in lawsuit," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contraband.' 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 contraband

circa 1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for contraband

Italian contrabbando, from Medieval Latin contrabannum, from contra- + bannus, bannum decree, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German bannan to command — more at ban

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Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for contraband

The first known use of contraband was circa 1529

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More Definitions for contraband

contraband

noun

English Language Learners Definition of contraband

: things that are brought into or out of a country illegally

contraband

noun
con·​tra·​band | \ˈkän-trə-ˌband \

Kids Definition of contraband

: goods forbidden by law to be owned or to be brought into or out of a country

contraband

noun
con·​tra·​band | \ˈkän-trə-ˌband \

Legal Definition of contraband 

: property that is unlawfully produced, possessed, or transported

contraband per se

: property that is in and of itself unlawful to possess, produce, or transport

derivative contraband

: property that is unlawful because it is used in committing an unlawful act

History and Etymology for contraband

Italian contrabbando act of smuggling, from contra- against + bando edict, law

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More from Merriam-Webster on contraband

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contraband

Spanish Central: Translation of contraband

Nglish: Translation of contraband for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contraband for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about contraband

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