pri·​va·​teer ˌprī-və-ˈtir How to pronounce privateer (audio)
: an armed private ship licensed to attack enemy shipping
also : a sailor on such a ship
privateer intransitive verb

Examples of privateer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Africans sold into bondage in Virginia in 1619 (the event that prompted the New York Times’ 1619 Project, four centuries later) had been seized from a Portuguese slave ship by an English privateer carrying a Dutch letter of marque. Daniel Immerwahr, The New Yorker, 15 July 2024 But in the following century, states turned away from privateers because their extracurricular pillaging became too costly. Joseph S. Nye Jr., Foreign Affairs, 14 Dec. 2021 As governments struggled to control privateers, attitudes changed, and new norms of prudence and restraint developed. Joseph S. Nye Jr., Foreign Affairs, 14 Dec. 2021 The location of each of the wrecks isn’t conclusive; some are still undiscovered, while others were salvaged by survivors or privateers. Joshua Rapp Learn, Discover Magazine, 4 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for privateer 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'privateer.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1641, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of privateer was circa 1641

Dictionary Entries Near privateer

Cite this Entry

“Privateer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


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


2 of 2 verb
: to cruise in or as a privateer
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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