freedom of the seas

noun phrase

: the right of a merchant ship to travel any waters except territorial waters either in peace or war

Examples of freedom of the seas in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Throughout the 20th century, the freedom of the seas was guaranteed by the two great ocean-going democracies: Britain and the United States. Jim Talent, National Review, 6 Jan. 2024 The stakes today involve not just control of undersea oil and gas reserves, fisheries, and commercial sea-lanes but also the viability of the troubled U.S.-Philippine alliance and even the global legal principle of freedom of the seas. Barry Eichengreen, Foreign Affairs, 28 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'freedom of the seas.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1917, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of freedom of the seas was in 1917

Dictionary Entries Near freedom of the seas

Cite this Entry

“Freedom of the seas.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freedom%20of%20the%20seas. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Legal Definition

freedom of the seas

: the right of a merchant ship to travel any waters except territorial waters either in peace or war

More from Merriam-Webster on freedom of the seas

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