pi·​ra·​cy | \ ˈpī-rə-sē How to pronounce piracy (audio) \
plural piracies

Definition of piracy

1 : an act of robbery on the high seas also : an act resembling such robbery
2 : robbery on the high seas
3a : the unauthorized use of another's production, invention, or conception especially in infringement of a copyright
b : the illicit accessing of broadcast signals

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Synonyms for piracy



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Examples of piracy in a Sentence

piracy on the high seas many countries have harsh penalties for piracy now

Recent Examples on the Web

As detailed in the indictment, the service had fine-tuned the act of automated piracy. Wired, "What the Takedown of Two Streaming Services Means for Piracy," 29 Aug. 2019 Then again, digital piracy is on the rise, so perhaps people are already on their way. Luke Kurtis, Quartz, "Apple locked me out of its walled garden. It was a nightmare," 13 Aug. 2019 Iran called the seizure an act of piracy, and accused Britain of acting on behalf of Washington. Yonette Joseph, BostonGlobe.com, "Iran says it has seized another oil tanker in Persian Gulf," 4 Aug. 2019 Iran called the seizure an act of piracy, and accused Britain of acting on behalf of Washington. New York Times, "Iran Says It Has Seized Another Oil Tanker in Persian Gulf," 4 Aug. 2019 Beyond the obvious role of combat support, these companies have also been increasingly used in services as diverse as anti-poaching efforts and combating maritime piracy. Jonathan Powell, Quartz Africa, "The controversial role of private military and security companies in Africa," 9 Aug. 2019 In addition to his songwriting, Webb has been an outspoken critic of music piracy and the chronic undervaluing of artistic creativity in our economy. John Adamian, courant.com, "Songwriter Jimmy Webb performing at the Kate," 19 July 2019 Threat levels of the highest order aren’t uncommon in places especially vulnerable to piracy, such as along the east coast of Africa. Yantoultra Ngui, WSJ, "China Stirs Suspicion With Unusual Maritime-Threat Alert," 11 July 2019 VidAngel executives argued the firm was protected from piracy accusations by a 2005 law called the Family Movie Act, which says consumers can tweak movies for personal viewing. Ryan Faughnder, latimes.com, "VidAngel, a start-up that cleaned up movies for streaming, must pay $62.4 million to studios," 17 June 2019

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

1537, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for piracy

Medieval Latin piratia, from Late Greek peirateia, from Greek peiratēs pirate

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Statistics for piracy

Last Updated

9 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for piracy

The first known use of piracy was in 1537

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More Definitions for piracy



English Language Learners Definition of piracy

: the act of attacking and stealing from a ship at sea
: the act of illegally copying someone's product or invention without permission
: the act of illegally making television or radio broadcasts


pi·​ra·​cy | \ ˈpī-rə-sē How to pronounce piracy (audio) \
plural piracies

Kids Definition of piracy

1 : robbery of a ship at sea
2 : the use of another's work or invention without permission


pi·​ra·​cy | \ ˈpī-rə-sē How to pronounce piracy (audio) \
plural piracies

Legal Definition of piracy

1 : an act of robbery especially on the high seas specifically : an illegal act of violence, detention, or plunder committed for private ends by crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft against another ship or aircraft on the high seas or in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state — see also air piracy
2a : the unauthorized copying, distribution, or use of another's production (as a film) especially in infringement of a copyright software piracy
b : the unauthorized use, interception, or receipt of encoded communications (as satellite cable programming) especially to avoid paying fees for use the statute's purpose is to proscribe the piracy of programming signalsUnited States v. Harrell, 983 F.2d 36 (1993)
3 : the crime of committing piracy

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Comments on piracy

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


concealment of treason or felony

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