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

  • noun A ship privately owned and crewed but authorized by a government during wartime to attack and capture enemy vessels.
  • noun The commander or one of the crew of such a ship.
  • intransitive verb To sail as a privateer.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To cruise in a privateer for the purpose of seizing an enemy's ships or annoying his commerce.
  • noun An armed vessel owned and officered by private persons, but acting under a commission from the state usually called letters of marque.
  • noun The commander of, or a man serving on board of, a privateer.

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

  • noun An armed private vessel which bears the commission of the sovereign power to cruise against the enemy. See Letters of marque, under marque.
  • noun The commander of a privateer.
  • intransitive verb To cruise in a privateer.

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

  • noun nautical A privately owned warship that had official sanction to attack enemy ships and take possession of their cargo.
  • noun An officer or any other member of the crew of such a ship.
  • noun motor racing A private individual entrant into a race or competition who does not have the backing of a large, professional team.
  • verb To function under official sanction permitting attacks on enemy shipping and seizing ship and cargo; to engage in government-sponsored piracy.

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

  • noun a privately owned warship commissioned to prey on the commercial shipping or warships of an enemy nation
  • noun an officer or crew member of a privateer


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From private +‎ -eer, on the model of volunteer.


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  • See pigeon hawk.

    January 14, 2009

  • This word was also used in Master And Commander.

    June 9, 2012