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

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Other Words from privateer

privateer intransitive verb

Examples of privateer in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The privateer Captain Kidd buried treasure on Gardiners Island. Sam Roberts, New York Times, "Robert Goelet, New York Grandee and Naturalist, Dies at 96," 11 Oct. 2019 His father, Jan Jansen, a Dutch privateer, was captured by one of the Moorish states in 1618. Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times, "Brooklyn’s Muslim Presence Goes Back Centuries. Here’s Proof From 1643.," 3 Dec. 2019 In the summer of 1619, two warships manned by English privateers raided a Portuguese vessel the pirates hoped was brimming with gold. Ishaan Tharoor, Twin Cities, "Ishaan Tharoor: The 1619 Project and the fear of history," 22 Aug. 2019 This month marks 400 years since the arrival of that first slave ship, the White Lion, an English privateer carrying Africans captured by Portuguese colonists in present-day Angola. Los Angeles Times, "A family that believes it descends from the first African American reflects on 400 years of history," 25 Aug. 2019 The English wanted these privateers to slow down Spanish settlement and empowered them to attack Spanish ships. National Geographic, "400 years ago, enslaved Africans first arrived in Virginia," 13 Aug. 2019 Then, in the Gulf of Mexico, the ship was attacked by two English privateers – pirates under a foreign flag of convenience. USA Today, "The founding family you’ve never heard of: The black Tuckers of Hampton, Virginia," 22 Aug. 2019 The privateer ship White Lion is believed to have reached Fort Comfort on about Aug. 25. Jeremy C. Fox,, "Events planned in Boston for ‘National Day of Healing’ to explore toll of slavery on 400th anniversary," 21 Aug. 2019 In addition to the trauma of widespread death on the San Juan Bautista, the crew was also concerned about English privateers, who were assigned to take any goods aboard Spanish and Portuguese ships. National Geographic, "400 years ago, enslaved Africans first arrived in Virginia," 13 Aug. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of privateer

circa 1641, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for privateer

Time Traveler

The first known use of privateer was circa 1641

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Statistics for privateer

Last Updated

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Privateer.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for privateer


How to pronounce privateer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of privateer

: a ship used in the past to attack and rob other ships also : a sailor on a 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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More from Merriam-Webster on privateer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with privateer

Spanish Central: Translation of privateer

Nglish: Translation of privateer for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about privateer

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