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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 pirating

Historical Examples

  • People said he'd been a pirating off there in South Ameriky.

    Oldtown Fireside Stories

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • He'll catch them, I'm thinking, and they'll come to a pirate's end—that's all the pirating they'll get.

    Prisoners of Hope

    Mary Johnston

  • As he had truly said, this pirating was no trade for a nervous man.

    Blackbeard: Buccaneer

    Ralph D. Paine

  • They are pirating the bill as well as the play here, everywhere.

  • Certain printers, however, made a practice of pirating some of the most popular English privileged books.

    Prices of Books

    Henry B. Wheatley

British Dictionary definitions for pirating


  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 pirating



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