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[pahy-ruh t] /ˈpaɪ rət/
a person who robs or commits illegal violence at sea or on the shores of the sea.
a ship used by such persons.
any plunderer, predator, etc.:
confidence men, slumlords, and other pirates.
a person who uses or reproduces the work or invention of another without authorization.
Also called pirate stream. Geology. a stream that diverts into its own flow the headwaters of another stream, river, etc.
verb (used with object), pirated, pirating.
to commit piracy upon; plunder; rob.
to take by piracy:
to pirate gold.
to use or reproduce (a book, an invention, etc.) without authorization or legal right:
to pirate hit records.
to take or entice away for one's own use:
Our competitor is trying to pirate our best salesman.
verb (used without object), pirated, pirating.
to commit or practice piracy.
Origin of pirate
1250-1300; Middle English < Latin pīrāta < Greek peirātḗs, equivalent to peirā-, variant stem of peirân to attack + -tēs agent noun suffix
Related forms
piratelike, adjective
[pahy-rat-i-kuh l, pi-] /paɪˈræt ɪ kəl, pɪ-/ (Show IPA),
piratic, adjective
piratically, adverb
unpirated, adjective
unpiratical, adjective
unpiratically, adverb
1. freebooter, buccaneer, corsair, plunderer. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pirate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The pirate continued talking much in this way for some time, but without producing any effect upon his hearers.

    John Deane of Nottingham W.H.G. Kingston
  • "I would I had your eyes," said Sir Nigel, blinking at the pirate galleys.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • If what I know leaks out, the pirate will fill the popular mind more to-morrow than he has done in the past even.

    The Motor Pirate George Sidney Paternoster
  • "I don't know that 'tis fit for me to take this pirate money, after all," he said.

  • The ships of our front rank sailed swiftly down on their foe, and each crashed heavily into a pirate vessel.

    The Fall Of The Grand Sarrasin William J. Ferrar
British Dictionary definitions for pirate


a person who commits piracy
  1. a vessel used by pirates
  2. (as modifier): a pirate ship
a person who illicitly uses or appropriates someone else's literary, artistic, or other work
  1. a person or group of people who broadcast illegally
  2. (as modifier): a pirate radio station
(transitive) to use, appropriate, or reproduce (artistic work, ideas, etc) illicitly
Derived Forms
piratical (paɪˈrætɪkəl), piratic, adjective
piratically, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin pīrāta, from Greek peirātēs one who attacks, from peira an attempt, attack
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 pirate

c.1300 (mid-13c. as a surname), from Latin pirata "sailor, corsair, sea robber" (source of Spanish, Italian pirata, Dutch piraat, German Pirat), literally "one who attacks (ships)," from Greek peirates "brigand, pirate," literally "one who attacks," from peiran "to attack, make a hostile attempt on, try," from peira "trial, an attempt, attack," from PIE root *per- "try" (cf. Latin peritus "experienced," periculum "trial, experiment; attempt on or against; enterprise;" see peril). An Old English word for it was sæsceaða. Meaning "one who takes another's work without permission" first recorded 1701; sense of "unlicensed radio broadcaster" is from 1913.


1570s, from pirate (n.). Related: Pirated; pirating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pirate in Technology
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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