contraband

noun
con·​tra·​band | \ ˈkän-trə-ˌband How to pronounce contraband (audio) \

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 Backpacking is not free, I was told: Migrants may pay gangs up to $100 for the right to smuggle a backpack of contraband. Paola Díaz, The Conversation, "Migrants at US-Mexico border must get past cartels before their long journey ends," 18 Mar. 2020 The discovery was made a week into a lockdown that was put in place after officials learned a gun might have been smuggled in, the bureau said, adding that a sizable amount of contraband was found, as well. CBS News, "Loaded gun found in federal Manhattan jail that housed Jeffrey Epstein," 6 Mar. 2020 The Metropolitan Correctional Center and other federal prisons across the United States have been dealing with rising levels of violence and other safety problems, including an influx of contraband. Ed Shanahan, New York Times, "Loaded Gun Found Smuggled Into Jail Where Jeffrey Epstein Killed Himself," 6 Mar. 2020 The dog acknowledged some type of contraband in the car. cleveland, "Weed may not be hers, but it’s in her purse: Middleburg Heights Police Blotter," 5 Mar. 2020 Other unannounced institutional searches further decreased the presence of contraband, authorities said. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Predawn raid at southeast Alabama prison targets illegal contraband," 25 Feb. 2020 Efforts to bust sellers of bogus merchandise this year started at the end of last year's Super Bowl, with agents identifying possible sources of contraband. Hollie Silverman, CNN, "Feds seize over $123 million worth of counterfeit Super Bowl merchandise," 2 Feb. 2020 Prosecutors accused him of using a contraband cellphone to disseminate classified information to the press and using social media to claim that the FBI was framing him for the Vault 7 leaks. Shane Harris, BostonGlobe.com, "Jury in CIA leaks case fails to reach a verdict on most serious charges," 9 Mar. 2020 Prosecutors accused him of using a contraband cellphone to disseminate classified information to the press and using social media to claim that the FBI was framing him for the Vault 7 leaks. Author: Shayna Jacobs, Shane Harris, Anchorage Daily News, "Jury in CIA leaks case fails to reach a verdict on most serious charges," 9 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for contraband

Time Traveler

The first known use of contraband was circa 1529

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Statistics for contraband

Last Updated

31 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contraband.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contraband. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for contraband

contraband

noun
How to pronounce contraband (audio)

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 How to pronounce contraband (audio) \

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 How to pronounce contraband (audio) \

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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