smug·​gle | \ ˈsmə-gəl How to pronounce smuggle (audio) \
smuggled; smuggling\ ˈsmə-​g(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce smuggle (audio) \

Definition of smuggle

transitive verb

1 : to import or export secretly contrary to the law and especially without paying duties imposed by law
2 : to convey or introduce surreptitiously

intransitive verb

: to import or export something in violation of the customs laws

Examples of smuggle in a Sentence

He was arrested for smuggling drugs into the country. They smuggled immigrants across the border. The paintings had been smuggled out of the country before the war. We smuggled his favorite sandwich past the nurse.
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Recent Examples on the Web Petersen received his six-year federal sentence in Arkansas for conspiring to smuggle people. Jacques Billeaud, The Arizona Republic, 11 Jan. 2022 Two inmates and a Bureau of Prisons employee have been indicted and accused of conspiring to smuggle contraband into a federal prison in Atlanta. Asia Simone Burns, ajc, 22 Dec. 2021 The prison was in the news in 2019 after an inmate, a former inmate and two other people were arrested for using a drone to smuggle in contraband including cellphones, tobacco, weight-loss supplements, and eyeglasses. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 17 Nov. 2021 Federal law enforcement officials said Wednesday that a man who claimed to be with a Mexican cartel and recruited Alaskans to smuggle methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin into the state has been arrested. Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Sep. 2021 The same year, in a separate case, a Fort Dix correctional officer pleaded guilty to pocketing bribes to smuggle in contraband. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 17 Nov. 2021 In January 2009, one year into the conservatorship, when Ghalib and Lutfi were no longer allowed near Britney, the pair asked Eliscu to smuggle in a document for Britney to sign at the Montage Beverly Hills., 28 Sep. 2021 The Borowitz Report)—With legal jeopardy suddenly mounting for the former President, Mike Lindell, better known as the MyPillow Guy, has offered to smuggle Donald J. Trump out of the country in one of his company’s duvet covers. Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, 30 July 2021 But in reality, federal prosecutors learned, Petersen used a portion of the money to smuggle dozens of pregnant Marshallese women in to the United States and offered them $10,000 once the baby was born. Jaclyn Peiser, Washington Post, 2 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'smuggle.' 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 smuggle

1687, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for smuggle

Low German smuggeln & Dutch smokkelen

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Time Traveler for smuggle

Time Traveler

The first known use of smuggle was in 1687

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Dictionary Entries Near smuggle




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Statistics for smuggle

Last Updated

14 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Smuggle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for smuggle



English Language Learners Definition of smuggle

: to move (someone or something) from one country into another illegally and secretly
: to take or bring (something) secretly


smug·​gle | \ ˈsmə-gəl How to pronounce smuggle (audio) \
smuggled; smuggling

Kids Definition of smuggle

1 : to export or import secretly and unlawfully They smuggled stolen goods.
2 : to take or bring secretly It had been my intention to smuggle a couple of sandwiches …— Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Other Words from smuggle

smuggler \ ˈsmə-​glər \ noun


smug·​gle | \ ˈsmə-gəl How to pronounce smuggle (audio) \
smuggled; smuggling

Legal Definition of smuggle

transitive verb

: to import or export secretly and illegally especially to avoid paying duties or to evade enforcement of laws smuggle drugs convicted of smuggling weapons

intransitive verb

: to export or import something in violation of customs laws


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