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

  • n. Robbery committed at sea.
  • n. A similar act of robbery, as the hijacking of an airplane.
  • n. The unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted or patented material: software piracy.
  • n. The operation of an unlicensed, illegal radio or television station.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Robbery at sea, a violation of international law; taking a ship away from the control of those who are legally entitled to it.
  • n. A similar violation of international law, such as hijacking of an aircraft.
  • n. The unauthorized duplication of goods protected by intellectual property law (e.g. copying software unlawfully).
  • n. The operation of an unlicensed radio or television station.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act or crime of a pirate.
  • n. Robbery on the high seas; the taking of property from others on the open sea by open violence; without lawful authority, and with intent to steal; -- a crime answering to robbery on land.
  • n.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Robbery upon the sea; robbery by pirates; the practice of robbing on the high seas.
  • n. Literary theft; any unauthorized appropriation of the mental or artistic conceptions or productions of another; specifically, an infringement of the law of copyright.
  • n. In geology, that process whereby, because of a higher natural gradient, and therefore more efficient eroding power, one stream cuts back a divide and taps off the head-waters or a tributary of another stream. The captured stream usually turns a sharp angle into its new course and leaves a wind-gap where it formerly flowed. Also called stream-piracy.

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

  • n. hijacking on the high seas or in similar contexts; taking a ship or plane away from the control of those who are legally entitled to it
  • n. the act of plagiarizing; taking someone's words or ideas as if they were your own


Medieval Latin pīrātia, from Late Greek peirāteia, from Greek peirātēs, pirate; see pirate.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • Johnnie Carson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, points out the upsurge in piracy is just one of the ripple effects of what's happening on land.

    Maritime Bureau Blames Somali Pirates for Almost Half of Worldwide Attacks

  • I claim that the term piracy was co-opted in recent years by business interests to include those making unauthorized copies of music/movies for their private purposes - where there was no profit or reselling involved.

    Pirating the 2009 Oscars -

  • Yet a similar confusion of thought is involved in this indiscriminate application of the term piracy, unless we emphasize the fact that in this connexion it must be divested of its ordinary moral connotation.

    England under the Tudors

  • I claim that the term piracy was co-opted by business interests to include those making unauthorized copies of music for their private listening purposes - where there was no profit or reselling involved.

    Original Signal - Transmitting Digg

  • Trivia note: Until relatively recently, in historical terms, the term piracy (in the intellectual property sense) wasn't applied to what consumers did.

    Dwell On It

  • One of the Internet group tried to ask her whether the term piracy was appropriate, but she insisted that it was because people's livelihoods were at stake.


  • This is what we call piracy, and a pirate, you know, is thought to be a very wicked man.

    The True Story of Christopher Columbus, Called the Great Admiral

  • Although the word "BitTorrent" is often used in context with the word "piracy," the company itself has steered clear of legal problems by avoiding any distribution of unlicensed content, and narrowing its focus to delivering the best Internet file-sharing technology it's capable of building.

    Ars Technica

  • Why is it so tempting to think that the solution to our culture's embarrassing pirate fetish is to rename what we call piracy as something different: "software bootleggers"; "Somali ship-jackers"?

    Culture Making

  • The music industry started a war against what it called piracy that included suing music fans and enlisting celebrities like Kid Rock to make public service announcements.

    NPR Topics: News


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