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

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 The law was theoretically supposed to prevent piracy of music, movies, and other digital media. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Why a random federal agency gets to decide which devices we tinker with," 26 Oct. 2018 The game’s custom songs are pretty unambiguous piracy, and Beat Saber could undercut a lot of them with official, downloadable tracks. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Why Beat Saber is my game of the year," 18 Dec. 2018 Movie piracy groups and forums have been around practically as long as the high-speed connections that are needed to download or stream them. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "There are tons of free movie groups on Facebook, but no one is doing anything about it," 13 July 2018 After the Constitution was ratified, the federal government and states used forfeiture to enforce laws against smuggling and to stop piracy. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Fines and Punishment," 29 Nov. 2018 After returning to civilian life, DeFranco spent a few years working for hire in maritime security, combating piracy. James Sullivan, BostonGlobe.com, "Former SEAL continues to serve, but this time it’s coffee at Battle Grounds in Haverhill," 24 May 2018 The January release date allowed piracy to flourish online, cutting into ticket sales. Brooks Barnes, New York Times, "‘Jumanji’ Charges Forth, ‘The Last Jedi’ Fizzles in China," 7 Jan. 2018 The PLA Navy participates in the anti-piracy mission in the Horn of Africa, which gives it considerable experience in long-distance voyages and security missions. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Is the Chinese Military Ready for War?," 27 Nov. 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

22 Apr 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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