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


busybody, buttinsky (also buttinski), interferer, intermeddler, intruder, kibitzer (also kibbitzer), meddler, nosey parker [chiefly British]

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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

The idea of unwittingly ingesting eight-legged interlopers is viscerally horrifying. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Do You Actually Swallow a Bunch of Spiders When You Sleep?," 8 Feb. 2019 Government agronomist Juan Carlos Pérez treats the 4-inch-high interlopers like his own children. Julie Wernau, WSJ, "Why Does Your Coffee Taste Like Tires? A Battle Brews Between Beans," 16 Dec. 2018 To discover these cosmic interlopers, the Harvard researchers turned to a database of asteroids, comets, and other small solar system objects maintained by the International Astronomical Union. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "There Could Be Hundreds of Interstellar Asteroids Lurking in Our Solar System," 3 Dec. 2018 Phish fans complain in forums of a superfan dubbed Antelope Greg, who is said to mark out a primo square for himself on the ground with duct tape and shout at interlopers who wander in. Ira Iosebashvili, WSJ, "Phish Fans Are Friendly—Until the Tarps Come Out to Save Seats," 20 Aug. 2018 The interest in understanding contemporary war from all angles binds Mr. Ackerman’s novels (his previous books centered on a young Afghan villager and an interloper in the Syrian civil war). Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: When Nowhere Felt Like Home," 20 Sep. 2018 The region’s declining fortunes contributed to his image as an interloper among Europe’s moneyed investment class. Patrick Mcgroarty, WSJ, "Belgian Billionaire Was a Quiet Force in Europe’s Boardrooms," 7 Dec. 2018 As Torun’s nimble camera follows the cats doing their rounds—filching food, catching rats, scaring off interlopers—the film offers a glimpse of something richer and more poetic. Vogue, "These Are the 66 Best Documentaries of All Time," 8 Aug. 2018 Luckily, the couple's backup dancers noticed something definitely wasn't right and wound up breaking formation to swarm the interloper. Krystin Arneson, Glamour, "Beyoncé's Backup Dancers Saved Her From a Concertgoer Who Rushed the Stage," 27 Aug. 2018

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

The first known use of interloper was circa 1590

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More Definitions for interloper



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

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to move or proceed with twists and turns

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