letter of marque

  1. license or commission granted by a state to a private citizen to capture and confiscate the merchant ships of another nation.

Origin of letter of marque

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50
  • Also called letter of marque and reprisal, letters of marque and reprisal.
  • Also letters of marque .

Words Nearby letter of marque

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use letter of marque in a sentence

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

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

  • 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 prize proved to be the ship I have mentioned, a letter-of-marque, from Guadaloupe, bound to Nantes.

    Afloat And Ashore | James Fenimore Cooper
  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for letter of marque

letter of marque

  1. a licence granted by a state to a private citizen to arm a ship and seize merchant vessels of another nation

  2. 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