contraband

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noun con·tra·band \ˈkän-trə-ˌband\

Definition of contraband

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

  2. 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. 3 :  a slave who during the American Civil War escaped to or was brought within the Union lines

contraband

adjective

contraband was our Word of the Day on 08/05/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of contraband in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples of contraband from the Web

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.

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").

Origin and Etymology of 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


CONTRABAND Defined for English Language Learners

contraband

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noun

Definition of contraband for English Language Learners

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


CONTRABAND Defined for Kids

contraband

play
noun con·tra·band \ˈkän-trə-ˌband\

Definition of contraband for Students

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


Law Dictionary

contraband

play
noun con·tra·band \ˈkän-trə-ˌband\

Legal Definition of contraband

  1. :  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

Origin and Etymology of contraband

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



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