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[kawr-sair] /ˈkɔr sɛər/
a fast ship used for piracy.
a pirate, especially formerly of the Barbary Coast.
(initial capital letter) Military. a gull-winged, propeller-driven fighter plane built for the U.S. Navy in World War II and kept in service into the early 1950s.
Origin of corsair
1540-50; < Middle French corsaire < Provençal corsar(i) < Upper Italian corsaro < Medieval Latin cursārius, equivalent to Latin curs(us) course + -ārius -ary Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for corsair
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I have been a mercenary soldier, a corsair, a kozak, and a hundred other things.

  • The words were out and the thing was done before Asad had realized the corsair's intent.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • He left a corsair's name to other times, Linked with one virtue, and a thousand crimes.

  • If it were a corsair, the rowers would all be Christian prisoners.

  • After the failure of her attempt to board us, the corsair hauled aft her sheets and shot ahead of the Good Hope.

  • I have read the corsair, mended my petticoat, and have nothing else to do.

    Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh
  • He had also a mania for travelling, and when he was only two-and-twenty was captured by an Algerian corsair and enslaved.

British Dictionary definitions for corsair


a pirate
a privateer, esp of the Barbary Coast
Word Origin
C15: from Old French corsaire pirate, from Medieval Latin cursārius, from Latin cursus a running, course
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for corsair

1540s, from Middle French corsaire (15c.), from Provençal cursar, Italian corsaro, from Medieval Latin cursarius "pirate," from Latin cursus "course, a running," from currere "to run" (see current (adj.)). Meaning of the Medieval Latin verb evolved from "course" to "journey" to "expedition" to an expedition specifically for plunder.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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