cor·​sair ˈkȯr-ˌser How to pronounce corsair (audio)
: pirate
especially : a privateer of the Barbary Coast

Example Sentences

no one knows the fate of the corsair's treasure-filled ship
Recent Examples on the Web But the stealthy corsair, evading her pursuer, slipped to safety in Tripoli’s shallow harbor—and then, suddenly, disaster struck the Philadelphia. Mark G. Spencer, WSJ, 31 Jan. 2023 Queen of the seas, Britain seemed to countenance the pirating activities of the North African corsairs. Thomas Wendel, National Review, 4 July 2019 From ancient Norse princess Alfhild to Sayyida al-Hurra of the Barbary corsairs, these women sailed beside–and sometimes in command of–male pirates. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, 12 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'corsair.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle French & Old Italian; Middle French corsaire pirate, from Old Occitan corsari, from Old Italian corsaro, from Medieval Latin cursarius, from Latin cursus course — more at course

First Known Use

1549, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of corsair was in 1549

Dictionary Entries Near corsair

Cite this Entry

“Corsair.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


cor·​sair ˈkȯr-ˌsa(ə)r How to pronounce corsair (audio)
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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