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

Theater owners worldwide have fiercely resisted changes such as shortening the window between theatrical and home viewing availability, arguably fueling piracy as ticket sales slump. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Netflix Could Pull Films From Cannes in Response to Competition Ban," 8 Apr. 2018 Beijing has taken a comprehensive approach, blending trade and investment deals and cultural exchanges with arms sales, medical assistance, troops training, anti-piracy drills and other programs. Lina Benabdallah, Washington Post, "China-Africa military ties have deepened. Here are 4 things to know.," 6 July 2018 In the meantime, however, the Navy has became increasingly busy, responding to the growing and increasingly assertive Russian and Chinese forces, North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile threats, and even piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Navy Wants to Ditch Missile Defense," 18 June 2018 With the latest season the most anticipated yet, HBO has taken greater steps to curtail piracy. Tufayel Ahmed, Newsweek, "'Game of Thrones' Premiere Illegally Downloaded One Million Times in Less Than 24 Hours," 26 Apr. 2016 Amateurs are flooding the internet; piracy has addled the once-dominant studios; production has atomized and scattered. Amanda Hess, New York Times, "‘Who Gets to Be Sexy?’," 5 May 2018 At the height of the piracy scourge off the coast of Somalia almost a decade ago, the average ransom to free a crew and vessel was, by one tally, $3.5m. The Economist, "A new approach to Somali pirates frees more hostages," 28 June 2018 The legislation is primarily intended to prevent online piracy in music and video. Francis Whittaker /, NBC News, "The end of memes? Campaigners dismayed at European internet ruling," 24 June 2018 China, long a haven for piracy and counterfeiters, has worked hard to strengthen its intellectual property laws in recent years. New York Times, "As Chinese ‘Crepe’ Catches On Abroad, a Fight to Preserve Its Soul," 29 May 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

21 Oct 2018

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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 \
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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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