pri·​va·​teer | \ ˌprī-və-ˈtir How to pronounce privateer (audio) \

Definition of privateer

: an armed private ship licensed to attack enemy shipping also : a sailor on such a ship

Other Words from privateer

privateer intransitive verb

Examples of privateer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At the beginning of the war, during the Siege of Boston, Washington had chartered a schooner owned by Marblehead’s John Glover and turned it into a privateer, marking, some have claimed, the beginning of the American Navy., 10 Sep. 2021 What are the challenges and advantages of competing as a small privateer? Viju Mathew, Robb Report, 25 June 2021 Williams’ interpretation is based on his study of fast-moving events that began in early July 1793, when Genêt challenged Washington’s neutrality by converting a merchant ship into an armed privateer that would launch attacks from American ports. Shaun Assael, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 June 2021 Letters of marque and reprisal license the privateer to attack and capture vessels belonging to enemy navies and merchant fleets. Robert Zafft, Forbes, 9 June 2021 With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army. Quinci Legardye, Marie Claire, 23 Apr. 2021 With the Darkling after her and her powers, Alina turns to an infamous privateer for help. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, 23 Apr. 2021 Josh Herrin, riding for the privateer Scheibe Racing BWM team, won a battle with Kyle Wyman for third. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 31 May 2020 The French had been unhappy with the Jay Treaty that George Washington had signed and ratified with the British, and their ships and privateers were preying upon American ships. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, 13 Feb. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'privateer.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of privateer

circa 1641, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for privateer

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The first known use of privateer was circa 1641

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Dictionary Entries Near privateer

private enterprise



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Cite this Entry

“Privateer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for privateer


pri·​va·​teer | \ ˌprī-və-ˈtir How to pronounce privateer (audio) \

Kids Definition of privateer

1 : a privately owned armed ship permitted by its government to make war on ships of an enemy country
2 : a sailor on a privateer


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