from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The obstructing or delaying of legislative action, especially by prolonged speechmaking.
  • noun An instance of this, especially a prolonged speech.
  • noun An adventurer who engages in a private military action in a foreign country.
  • intransitive verb To obstruct or delay legislative action, especially by making prolonged speeches.
  • intransitive verb To take part in a private military action in a foreign country.
  • intransitive verb To use a filibuster against (a legislative measure, for example).

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To act as a freebooter or bucaneer.
  • To obstruct legislation by undue use of the technicalities of parliamentary law or privileges, as when the minority in a legislative assembly, in order to prevent the passage of some measure obnoxious to them, endeavor to consume time or tire out their opponents by useless motions, speeches, objections, etc.
  • noun A freebooter: in history, a name distinctively applied to the West Indian bucaneers or pirates of the seventeenth century. See bucaneer.
  • noun Hence One of a band of men organized, in disregard of international law, for the purpose of invading and revolutionizing a foreign state.
  • noun In a legislative or other deliberative body, a member in the minority who resorts to irregular or obstructive tactics to prevent the adoption of a measure or procedure which is favored by the majority. Also filibusterer.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A lawless military adventurer, especially one in quest of plunder; a freebooter; -- originally applied to buccaneers infesting the Spanish American coasts, but introduced into common English to designate the followers of Lopez in his expedition to Cuba in 1851, and those of Walker in his expedition to Nicaragua, in 1855.
  • intransitive verb To act as a filibuster, or military freebooter.
  • intransitive verb political cant or slang, U.S. To delay legislation, by dilatory motions or other artifices.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A freebooter, or mercenary soldier.
  • noun US, politics A delaying tactic, especially the use of long, often irrelevant speeches given in order to delay progress or the making of a decision, especially on the floor of the US Senate.
  • noun US, politics A member of a legislative body causing such obstruction.
  • verb To take part in a private military action in a foreign country.
  • verb US, politics To use obstructionist tactics in a legislative body.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun (law) a tactic for delaying or obstructing legislation by making long speeches
  • verb obstruct deliberately by delaying
  • noun a legislator who gives long speeches in an effort to delay or obstruct legislation that he (or she) opposes


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From Spanish filibustero, freebooter, from French flibustier, from Dutch vrijbuiter, pirate; see freebooter.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Spanish filibustero ("pirate"), from French flibustier, from Dutch vrijbuiter ("freebooter"), from vrij ("free") + buit ("booty") + -er ("agent"). Same construction and cognate to English freebooter.


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  • They say women talk too much. If you have worked in Congress you know that the filibuster was invented by men.

    (Clare Boothe Luce)

    March 14, 2008

  • fantastic quote. fantastic.

    March 14, 2008

  • Indeed!

    March 15, 2008

  • "While the Democrats and Barack Obama have won the presidential election and come close to a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, they will be handicapped by the financial condition of the nation they will inherit. Think of a trustee or conservator of a bankrupt company. Obama will find his options substantially constrained by reality, if not by the partisan animosity of the Republicans."

    - Dick Morris and Eileen McGann, 'President Obama: A Trustee In Bankruptcy',, 5 Nov 2008.

    November 6, 2008

  • So a filibusterer is akin to a freebooter (pirate). It makes sense, actually.

    May 15, 2015