letters of marque

noun phrase

: written authority granted to a private person by a government to seize the subjects of a foreign state or their goods
specifically : a license granted to a private person to fit out an armed ship to plunder the enemy

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of letters of marque was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near letters of marque

Cite this Entry

“Letters of marque.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/letters%20of%20marque. Accessed 12 Jun. 2024.

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