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

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 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, Time, "Young Immigrants Held in a Virginia Detention Center Say They Were Abused By Guards," 21 June 2018 Jeffrey Foldie, attorney for fired Jackson-area prison manager Brent Rohrig, says his client alerted Corrections Department officials in 2016 to contraband smuggling by a corrections officer at Cotton prison near Jackson. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Fired Jackson prison manager who complained about smuggling seeks vindication," 6 Feb. 2018 This applies whether the dog is looking for contraband cellphones and drugs in prison cells, or foulbrood in beehives. New York Times, "With a Sniff and a Signal, These Dogs Hunt Down Threats to Bees," 3 July 2018 Dwayne Gernard Wigfall was charged with multiple drug felonies and with attempting to smuggle contraband into a correctional facility. Joe Marusak, charlotteobserver, "He had lots of drugs in his car, deputies say. Then they looked in his rectum.," 6 June 2018 Also since Maynard has taken over, at least three employees have been arrested, accused of smuggling contraband into the facility for inmates. Emily Lane, NOLA.com, "Orleans jail's compliance director resigns, judge 'dissatisfied with the pace of reform'," 29 Jan. 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

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

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Last Updated

14 Oct 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

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