One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In plural or collective singular A group of privateers or pirates active in the Baltic Sea in the late 14th and early 15th centuries and renowned for dividing their spoils equally among themselves.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Adam Anderson (1692–1765), historian of commerce. From Middle Dutch likedeler (in plural) denoting a particular band of privateers active in the late 14th and early 15th cent. (so called on account of their custom of dividing their takings equally among themselves) (Dutch likedeeler, hist.) from Middle Low German līkdēler, līkendēler someone who divides equally, specifically (in plural) denoting the band of privateers from līke + dēler, after līkedēlen to divide equally (especially of booty).
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