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[bar-uh-tree] /ˈbær ə tri/
noun, Law.
fraud by a master or crew at the expense of the owners of the ship or its cargo.
the offense of frequently exciting and stirring up lawsuits and quarrels.
the purchase or sale of ecclesiastical preferments or of offices of state.
Also, barretry.
Origin of barratry
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English barratrie < Anglo-French, Middle French baraterie combat, fighting. See barrator, -ery
Related forms
barratrous, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for barratry


(criminal law) (formerly) the vexatious stirring up of quarrels or bringing of lawsuits
(maritime law) a fraudulent practice committed by the master or crew of a ship to the prejudice of the owner or charterer
(Scots law) the crime committed by a judge in accepting a bribe
the purchase or sale of public or Church offices
Derived Forms
barratrous, barretrous, adjective
barratrously, barretrously, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Old French baraterie deception, from barater to barter
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 barratry

early 15c., "sale of ecclesiastical or state offices," from Old French baraterie "deceit, guile, trickery," from barat "malpractice, fraud, deceit, trickery," of unknown origin, perhaps from Celtic. In marine law, "wrongful conduct by a ship's crew or officer, resulting in loss to owners," from 1620s. Meaning "offense of habitually starting legal suits" is from 1640s. Sense somewhat confused with that of Middle English baratri "combat, fighting" (c.1400), from Old Norse baratta "fight, contest strife." This was an active word in Middle English, with forms such as baraten "to disturb the peace" (mid-15c.); baratour "inciter to riot, bully" (late 14c., mid-13c. as a surname). Barataria Bay, Louisiana, U.S., is from Spanish baratear "to cheat, deceive," cognate of the French word; the bay so called in reference to the difficulty of its entry passages.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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