Definition of pirate in English:



  • 1A person who attacks and robs ships at sea.

    [as modifier] ‘a pirate ship’
    • ‘The notorious pirate who sailed the seven seas without once being caught!’
    • ‘She worried about them and what would happen if the islanders caught the pirate crew.’
    • ‘Cynis and Reciler watched as the corvettes made short work of the pirate vessels.’
    • ‘Then together we will be the most fearsome pirates on the sea.’
    • ‘In one incident, 21 masked, armed pirates boarded a Malaysian fuel tanker in Indonesian waters on September 25.’
    • ‘Like I was a pirate on the sea again, with everything right.’
    • ‘Pearl scurried about the deck, searching the pirate crew to find the captain.’
    • ‘The English assembled into a circle with the armed pirates surrounding them.’
    • ‘We are originally from Wales, you see, but we came from England and were sailing to Venezuela when pirates attacked our ship.’
    • ‘The ship was named for an infamous pirate from the eighteenth century.’
    • ‘But immediately after, another group of pirates attacked the same ship.’
    • ‘Last year, Johnny Depp played a pirate sailing the high seas.’
    • ‘Just then four other pirate ships began to approach them.’
    • ‘In turn, Kirby caught every detail of her swashbuckling pirate.’
    • ‘In the past three weeks, pirates have also attacked another tug and an oil tanker in the same region.’
    • ‘No, it was the other pirates who kidnapped her.’
    • ‘Today's pirates have maintained one tradition; their attacks are terrifying and violent.’
    • ‘Rys's father, William Rose, had been one of the best and most feared pirates on every sea.’
    • ‘Sikh soldiers and British forces were deployed when rebels and pirates attacked colonial interests.’
    • ‘The tugboat, carrying eight Japanese and six Filipino crew members, was attacked by armed pirates.’
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A person who appropriates or reproduces the work of another for profit without permission, usually in contravention of patent or copyright.
      [as modifier] ‘pirate recordings’
      • ‘He rightly points out that China is only paying lip service to cracking down on counterfeiters and copyright pirates.’
      • ‘Microsoft has busted a group of suspected Scottish software pirates and seized kit worth more than £3 million.’
      • ‘"Buy a pirate DVD and you're far from being the only victim.’
      • ‘If this was a first time offence, convicted software pirates are liable to fines up to $5,200 or two years in jail.’
      • ‘A gang of four suspected software pirates were arrested in a raid by FBI agents in Los Angeles last week.’
      • ‘Music internet pirates, Craig reminds us, are devious little monkeys.’
      • ‘Here is bad news for Asian copyright pirates: Britain's criminal underworld has decided to go it alone.’
      • ‘Bait and BSA formed a workgroup for reaching consent on the procedures and the police checks of suspected software pirates.’
      • ‘Greedy crooks in a third world country are making pirate copies of your latest DVD!’
      • ‘There was no discussion of the immorality of the criminals who pirate the movies or buy from the pirates.’
      • ‘The record companies saw them as free-loading pirates who were stealing copyrighted songs.’
      • ‘Some become music pirates just to do something illegal, something different.’
      • ‘However pirate copies of Windows and Office can be obtained for $4.’
      • ‘Did you know the profit margins on pirate CDs are higher than cocaine?’
      • ‘But there is such a large margin of error for these Chinatown pirate DVDs.’
      • ‘Software pirates are criminals and deserve to be treated as such.’
      • ‘Why should downloaders, freeloaders, pirates and copyright felons be entitled to the protection of the law?’
      • ‘The law was drawn up to target professional pirates, criminals and counterfeiters who make copies of goods such as football shirts or CDs.’
      • ‘Obviously, these are copies, fakes, pirate booty.’
      • ‘With some trial and error a software pirate can sit and generate product keys until one is found to be working.’
      copyright infringer, plagiarist, plagiarizer
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2A person or organization that broadcasts radio or television programmes without official authorization.
      [as modifier] ‘a pirate radio station’
      • ‘The Radio Caroline pirate radio ship is moored up at Tilbury port.’
      • ‘But pirate radio broadcasters were always subject to arrest for violation of U.S. law.’
      • ‘I now have the chance to broadcast from a ship in the way those radio pirates did!’
      • ‘A cascade of treasured memories come flooding back; my own upbringing taking in Soul Weekenders, warehouse parties, and stints as a pirate radio broadcaster.’
      • ‘Pirate station Phantom FM is making its third bid for a Dublin licence.’
      • ‘Dunphy is reluctant to be drawn on his experience of running a pirate station.’
      • ‘The pirate radio ship was an excellent experience.’
      • ‘You got your start in radio as a pirate broadcaster.’
      • ‘It was the UK's first pirate radio station to broadcast 24 hours a day.’
      • ‘These were used to find people with wireless sets but without licences - and to keep an ear open for pirate radio broadcasts too.’
      • ‘So what is it that defines a pirate radio station?’
      • ‘Another search is also on, as it turns out that a pirate radio station is broadcasting from the glen.’
      • ‘The pirate radio's broadcasts reached listeners as far away as Germany, France, Switzerland, Britain and the Netherlands.’
      • ‘You could - in theory - be prosecuted for running a pirate radio station.’
      • ‘The dismantling of a pirate radio station by police was today hailed as a ‘giant step forward’ by Southend's environment chief.’
      • ‘Radio Friendly was a pirate radio station in Galway City that had been broadcasting for almost twelve months.’
      • ‘Now former Leeds pirate radio broadcaster Jez is looking to use some of the money to benefit hip-hop talent in Africa.’
      • ‘An edited version later broadcast on the then pirate radio station Radio Kilkenny resulted in a strong protest from Jim Gibbons and his family.’
      • ‘Originally put together to sound like a pirate radio broadcast, listening to it now it's like a little time machine.’
      • ‘If an application to secure a full-time licence is successful, organisers of Wharfedale FM plan to develop it along the lines of the old pirate radio stations.’


  • 1Use or reproduce (another's work) for profit without permission, usually in contravention of patent or copyright.

    ‘pirated tapes of Hollywood blockbusters’
    • ‘But copyright law did not apply internationally, which meant publishers overseas were free to pirate his works.’
    • ‘"It doesn't allow people to pirate music, " Hammerton said.’
    • ‘The warning came from Business Software Alliance who have urged adults to teach children that downloading pirated software is illegal.’
    • ‘I find it hard to believe that Academy voters would care about pirating their copies.’
    • ‘Although the software was popular, the software writer and his partner did not always get paid: hobbyists were pirating their work.’
    • ‘I also noticed that the article claims that 50,000 people in Mexico make a living selling pirated music.’
    • ‘Stevens is no hero: he was found guilty in a separate case of selling pirated software.’
    • ‘Pirated copies of the latest Harry Potter are all over the city.’
    • ‘Members learned the genre through pirated CDs and videos smuggled in from Turkey and Jordan.’
    • ‘But an avalanche of English-language pirated copies of the film is spreading across China.’
    • ‘Firstly, with the emergence of DVDs and pirated VCDs, not many film buffs visit theatres anymore.’
    • ‘Other people shouldn't be able to profit from your work by selling pirated editions: that was the whole point of copyright law.’
    • ‘There is no color to it, and it seems to have been mastered from an old VHS home video tape pirated from the front row.’
    • ‘Miguel has been selling pirated music to tourists and Cubans for almost twenty years.’
    • ‘Have you heard of anyone having pirated CD's confiscated at customs?’
    • ‘Now, that is because they're trying to prevent people from pirating the movie.’
    • ‘Document 18 has heavy penalties for people who purchase or sell pirated software.’
    • ‘The DMCA assumes that the only reason to do any of this work is to pirate copyrighted works.’
    • ‘If necessary, he'll pirate his own movie to get it out there.’
    • ‘He said the conviction was the first he knew of involving a foreigner selling pirated DVDs.’
    reproduce illegally, infringe the copyright of, copy illegally, plagiarize, poach, steal, appropriate, bootleg
    crib, lift, rip off
    nick, pinch
    View synonyms
  • 2dated Rob or plunder (a ship)

    ‘one of the ferry launches had been pirated while still in the harbour’
    • ‘It was interesting how he basically said that his ship was pirated by these people and that he was afraid.’
    • ‘Then we are going to have to pirate every dead ship we come across for a long while.’
    pillage, loot, rob, raid, ransack, strip, fleece, ravage, lay waste, devastate, maraud, sack, rape
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Latin pirata, from Greek peiratēs, from peirein to attempt, attack (from peira an attempt).