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

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 La Liga’s anti-piracy efforts won’t be stopping anytime soon. Jacob Feldman, SI.com, "Massive La Liga Fine Just the Beginning of Sports Media’s Newest Battle," 14 June 2019 The Courier Journal reported in 2017 that Microsoft was examining the city's use of its software in a piracy dispute related to whether employees used more software than was allotted over the years. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville is paying $664K for software compliance after a 2017 Microsoft audit," 12 June 2019 Apple iTunes was born in 2003, when many consumers were using Napster and other online music piracy sites to download songs without paying for them. Hiawatha Bray, BostonGlobe.com, "For iTunes, a long-needed reorganization," 10 June 2019 But the program's defenders — from obsessive audiophiles who cherished their customized libraries to entertainment executives who resented the underground world of music piracy — nonetheless found continued value in the tool. Daniel Arkin, NBC News, "Apple is nixing iTunes. The fans — and the haters — bid farewell.," 3 June 2019 The format came at a time the music business struggled with online piracy and file-sharing sites. Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN, "The world awaits iTunes' fate," 3 June 2019 The company faces an uphill battle here too, given China’s rampant online piracy; less than 4% of its music-streaming users are paying subscribers. Jacky Wong, WSJ, "Don’t Get Lulled by Tencent Music’s Tunes," 11 Dec. 2018 President Trump is obligated to make China live up to its World Trade Organization commitments and end the piracy of American technology. Phil Gramm And, WSJ, "The Debt Threat to the Economy," 10 Dec. 2018

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

1 Jul 2019

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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).


something desired as essential

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