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

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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 That plus the little plates of cannoli positioned on each table might have led an uninformed interloper to mistake the event for the $33-a-ticket catch a killer game across town., "“She was found in 1982 in Newark,” said the class leader, who opened the session by bursting into song. That plus the little plates of cannoli positioned on each table might have led an uninformed interloper to mistake the event for the $33-a-ticket catch a killer game across town.," 6 Oct. 2019 The sandwiches were excitingly unusual, but after a few months Jacober, feeling like an interloper in the neighborhood, decided to rebrand as a Caribbean restaurant, focussing on Jamaican-style jerk to better serve the local community. Hannah Goldfield, The New Yorker, "At Mo’s Original, It Pays to Be Open-Minded," 4 Oct. 2019 The study of exoplanets has revealed that other solar systems can be quite different from our own, and interstellar interlopers can help reveal more about these far-off realms. Jay Bennett, Smithsonian, "Astronomers Spot a Comet That Likely Came From a Different Solar System," 12 Sep. 2019 Rather than retire to their rooms with a sigh of relief, however, Team Downton, led by Anna and Bates, decides to wage war on their liveried interlopers. Marley Marius, Vogue, "We Didn’t Need the Downton Abbey Movie, But We’re Happy to Have It," 10 Sep. 2019 The work positions the red-suited interlopers from Cook’s ship as an interruption—an infection, as the title plainly states—into a rich and self-contained world. A.c. | San Francisco, The Economist, "The social and political mural goes digital," 5 Aug. 2019 During the setup process, users can add a list of residents’ plates, to avoid mistaking a neighbor for an interloper. Los Angeles Times, "Neighbors are using these smart cameras to track strangers’ cars — and yours," 13 Sep. 2019 Venus also had to handle being treated as an interloper by the other players. Elizabeth Weil, New York Times, "Did Venus Williams Ever Get Her Due?," 22 Aug. 2019 Emotions and motivations are less clear for Ruby (Haddish), who puts up with a philandering spouse (James Badge Dale) and a blatantly racist mother-in-law (Margo Martindale) who will never stop seeing her as an interloper from Harlem. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Kitchen': Film Review," 7 Aug. 2019

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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Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for interloper

The first known use of interloper was circa 1590

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on interloper

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Spanish Central: Translation of interloper

Nglish: Translation of interloper for Spanish Speakers

Comments on interloper

What made you want to look up interloper? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to spread as a report or rumor

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