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[prahy-vuh-teer] /ˌpraɪ vəˈtɪər/
an armed ship that is privately owned and manned, commissioned by a government to fight or harass enemy ships.
verb (used without object)
to cruise as a privateer.
Origin of privateer
1640-50; private + -eer, modeled on volunteer Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for privateer
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We laughed at him, and advised him to be quiet and put us aboard the privateer.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • His own nephew was said to be among them; but him he would not serve, as he had been captured in a privateer.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • Was n't he a smuggler, or a privateer's-man, or something of the kind?

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • Are you he who commanded the "Dwarf" privateer in the Isle of France?'

  • There was no sign of privateer or pirate, as far as the eye could reach.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • We convoyed to keep the Alabama, a Confederate privateer, away.

  • If I fell in with an enemy's cruiser or a privateer I must expect to be stripped.

    The Frozen Pirate W. Clark Russell
British Dictionary definitions for privateer


an armed, privately owned vessel commissioned for war service by a government
Also called privateersman. a commander or member of the crew of a privateer
a competitor, esp in motor racing, who is privately financed rather than sponsored by a manufacturer
(intransitive) to serve as a privateer
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 privateer

1660s, "private man of war," from private (adj.), probably on model of volunteer, buccaneer.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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