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letter of marque

license or commission granted by a state to a private citizen to capture and confiscate the merchant ships of another nation.
Also, letters of marque.
Also called letter of marque and reprisal, letters of marque and reprisal.
Origin of letter of marque
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for letter-of-marque
Historical Examples
  • On the return, a letter-of-marque of sixteen guns and seventy men was captured.

  • Shortly afterward the Milford, accompanied by a British letter-of-marque, put in an appearance, and gave chase.

    The Story of John Paul Jones Chelsea Curtis Fraser
  • Well, as if that wern't enough, we ship together again in this vessel, and a time we had of it with the French letter-of-marque.

    Afloat And Ashore James Fenimore Cooper
  • The ship fell in with an American letter-of-marque, and the first lieutenant was ordered to board the American ship.

    Historic Boyhoods Rupert Sargent Holland
  • The prize proved to be the ship I have mentioned, a letter-of-marque, from Guadaloupe, bound to Nantes.

    Afloat And Ashore James Fenimore Cooper
  • In that day, even a French ship-of-the-line was no model of discipline or order, and a letter-of-marque was consequently worse.

    Afloat And Ashore James Fenimore Cooper
  • The scheme was not impossible for any one holding a privateer's commission, and I applied to Mr. Yancey for a letter-of-marque.

  • I believed my land-service commission would protect me, but I asked for the letter-of-marque as an additional safeguard.

  • Blowing a gale of wind, and a very heavy sea, the frigate captured an American letter-of-marque.

    The Life of Nelson, Vol. I (of 2) A. T. (Alfred Thayer) Mahan
  • She might be a letter-of-marque, like ourselves, and vessels of that character did not take convoy.

    Afloat And Ashore James Fenimore Cooper
British Dictionary definitions for letter-of-marque

letter of marque

a licence granted by a state to a private citizen to arm a ship and seize merchant vessels of another nation
a similar licence issued by a nation allowing a private citizen to seize goods or citizens of another nation
Also called letter of marque and reprisal
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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