Definition of contraband
- … persons the most bound in duty to prevent contraband …
- —Edmund Burke
- Border police searched the car for drugs and other contraband.
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The border police searched the car for drugs and other contraband.
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.
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").
: things that are brought into or out of a country illegally
What made you want to look up contraband? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
subject to rapid or unexpected change
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