pi·​ra·​cy | \ˈpī-rə-sē \
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

Legally gray, sure, but like the MPAA’s longstanding battle against piracy, Nintendo’s move will undoubtedly accomplish nothing against the hydra of ROM sites out there. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Forza 7 removes loot boxes, Forsaken remastered, and Nintendo sues ROM sites," 27 July 2018 The industry always had to contend with some form of bootlegging and piracy, resulting in the push for copyright legislation. Gail Mitchell, Billboard, "Stax Legend Al Bell on Black Music's Living Legacy and Power: 'My Life's Mission Is to Make Sure It Doesn't Die'," 6 July 2018 This is one of the first instances AT&T has ended a customer’s service over piracy issues. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "AT&T will cut off service for a dozen customers over piracy violations," 6 Nov. 2018 The report said cartels are also diversifying their criminal operations to include kidnapping, prostitution, extortion and even software piracy. Fox News, "US, Mexico announce new strategies to fight drug cartels," 15 Aug. 2018 The crisis has also seemingly led to this rise in Caribbean piracy — which is very different from what is depicted in the Hollywood movies with a similar name. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "Pirates Have Returned to the Caribbean Off the Coast of Venezuela," 13 Aug. 2018 The judge looks at past piracy cases and finds this situation more comparable to Napster than Google. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "What Matters in Hollywood Today," 19 June 2018 According to Muso, there were 74 billion visits to music piracy sites in 2017, a 14.7 percent uptick over the previous year. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "AIM Partners With Muso to Help Indie Artists Sink Pirates," 20 Apr. 2018 The strategic importance of this region was one reason why the People's Liberation Army Navy has sent anti-piracy patrols to the region. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Satellite Images Spy China's First Overseas Military Base," 9 Nov. 2017

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

2 Dec 2018

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 \
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 \
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).


a knickknack or trinket

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