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  1. a person who robs or commits illegal violence at sea or on the shores of the sea.
  2. a ship used by such persons.
  3. any plunderer, predator, etc.: confidence men, slumlords, and other pirates.
  4. a person who uses or reproduces the work or invention of another without authorization.
  5. Also called pirate stream. Geology. a stream that diverts into its own flow the headwaters of another stream, river, etc.
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verb (used with object), pi·rat·ed, pi·rat·ing.
  1. to commit piracy upon; plunder; rob.
  2. to take by piracy: to pirate gold.
  3. to use or reproduce (a book, an invention, etc.) without authorization or legal right: to pirate hit records.
  4. to take or entice away for one's own use: Our competitor is trying to pirate our best salesman.
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verb (used without object), pi·rat·ed, pi·rat·ing.
  1. to commit or practice piracy.
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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 formspi·rate·like, adjectivepi·rat·i·cal [pahy-rat-i-kuhl, pi-] /paɪˈræt ɪ kəl, pɪ-/, pi·rat·ic, adjectivepi·rat·i·cal·ly, adverbun·pi·rat·ed, adjectiveun·pi·rat·i·cal, adjectiveun·pi·rat·i·cal·ly, adverb


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for piratical

Historical Examples

  • As for the deer-fly, and others of his piratical breed, he will bite like a dog at any time.

    The Forest

    Stewart Edward White

  • If I tell the truth, they will be seized as piratical plunder.

    The Frozen Pirate

    W. Clark Russell

  • She wuz ther most piratical craft in petticoats wot I ever seen!

  • Again we were told that the piratical Serbs had seized the town of Alessio.

  • No tidings could be gained either of the brig or the fleet of piratical junks.

    The Three Midshipmen

    W.H.G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for piratical


  1. a person who commits piracy
    1. a vessel used by pirates
    2. (as modifier)a pirate ship
  2. 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
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  1. (tr) to use, appropriate, or reproduce (artistic work, ideas, etc) illicitly
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Derived Formspiratical (paɪˈrætɪkəl) or piratic, adjectivepiratically, 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

Word Origin and History for piratical


1570s, from Latin piraticus "pertaining to pirates," from Greek peiratikos, from peirates "pirate" (see pirate (n.)) + -ical. Related: Piratically (1540s).

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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.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper