in·​ter·​lop·​er | \ ˌin-tər-ˈlō-pər How to pronounce interloper (audio) , ˈin-tər-ˌlō- \

Definition of interloper

: one that interlopes: such as
a : one that intrudes in a place or sphere of activity
b : an illegal or unlicensed trader

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Synonyms for interloper


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The History of Interloper

When English speakers combined "inter-" with "-loper" in the late 1500s, they already had a word landloper (now archaic) for "a person who runs about the land" (in other words, a vagrant). The "-loper" part of "interloper" is related to Middle Dutch and Old English words meaning "to run" and "to leap." An "interloper" is essentially one who jumps into the midst of things without an invitation to do so. In its earliest uses, "interloper" referred specifically to one who interfered in trade illegally - that is, a trader who trespassed on the rights or charters of others. Sometimes "interloper" even referred to a ship employed in illegal trading. But the word quickly took on extended use, coming to refer not just to intrusion in trade but also in personal affairs or other matters.

Examples of interloper in a Sentence

I had hoped to help my neighbors, but they regarded me as an interloper. summer residents were regarded as interlopers who had no deep commitment to the town's welfare
Recent Examples on the Web In the summer of 2016, McCarthy endorsed Trump for President, but only after the interloper from New York had sewn up the nomination. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The G.O.P. Can No Longer Be Relied On to Protect Democracy," 12 Dec. 2020 Quagga mussels, another Baltic interloper, have completely transformed the ecology of Lakes Michigan and Huron over the past 30 years. Tim Folger, Environment, "This ferocious water flea is mauling the Great Lakes," 2 Dec. 2020 In the top-heavy ACC, UC would trail only Clemson and one-year interloper Notre Dame. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, "Paul Daugherty: College Football doesn't want the UC Bearcats of the world in its Playoff," 11 Nov. 2020 Earth's evil interloper still was being referred to as the coronavirus in mid-March, and our apprehension was such that one positive test, by Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, basically shut down American sports. Star Tribune, "Which sports dealt best with the coronavirusvirus? Here are the grades," 7 Nov. 2020 Or with Andrea Nguyen’s mapo tofu spaghetti recipe that just ran in the New York Times, which was criticized as the work of an interloper to Sichuan cuisine. Peter Hartlaub,, "Comfort food is reigning in the Bay Area. Is it good for dining culture as a whole?," 29 Oct. 2020 Tye often portrays McCarthy as an unserious interloper in an otherwise crucial endeavor. Dan Kaufman, The New Republic, "The Real Legacy of a Demagogue," 2 Oct. 2020 And at least one was discovered to be an interloper., "How a group that began by sharing racist memes, violent fantasies on Facebook became a force in Arizona politics," 1 Oct. 2020 If these objects take about a decade to cross the planetary region, the average rate of interloper arrivals must be about three a day! David Jewitt, Scientific American, "Everything Scientists Know So Far about the First Interstellar Objects Ever Detected," 1 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'interloper.' 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 interloper

circa 1590, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for interloper

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The first known use of interloper was circa 1590

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Last Updated

15 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Interloper.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for interloper


How to pronounce interloper (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of interloper

: a person who is not wanted or welcome by the other people in a situation or place


in·​ter·​lop·​er | \ ˌin-tər-ˈlō-pər How to pronounce interloper (audio) \

Kids Definition of interloper

: a person present in a situation or place where he or she is not wanted

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