Definition of bootleg in English:



  • [attributive] (especially of liquor, computer software, or recordings) made, distributed, or sold illegally.

    ‘bootleg cassettes’
    ‘bootleg whiskey’
    • ‘Rocker-turned-activist Geldof said he had consented to a DVD release of the 1985 concert because of the large number of bootleg recordings available.’
    • ‘There is, of course, the town drunk, Otis, who acquires bootleg liquor from various moonshiners in that dry county on a regular basis and regularly celebrates the anniversary of his first drink.’
    • ‘Scotland's deputy chief medical officer, Dr Andrew Fraser, warned anyone drinking the bootleg vodka could be in serious danger.’
    • ‘The bootleg alcohol that was produced then, often called gut-rot, tasted so vile that the bartenders learned to mix the alcohol with fruit juices to disguise the taste.’
    • ‘The multimillion-pound black market in bootleg films and CDs is thriving because prosecutors let criminals off the hook, it was claimed last night.’
    • ‘Over 40 years, he has produced something like 40 ‘official’ albums, supplemented by a slew of live LPs and even more bootleg recordings.’
    • ‘The move is being proposed in order to clamp down on bootleg whisky, which Brown claims costs the taxpayer £600m a year in lost tax revenue.’
    • ‘I personally have never seen bootleg alcohol and cigarettes sold from the back of a hatchback as reported.’
    • ‘The bootleg booze industry in Boston wasn't affected in the least.’
    • ‘After two years at college Slim was expelled for selling bootleg whiskey to other students.’
    • ‘But many Americans, especially in the cities, rejected prohibition; speakeasies flourished and bootleg liquor flowed freely in many municipalities.’
    • ‘This is the woman who carried on drinking bootleg liquor after Prohibition was lifted because she preferred the taste.’
    • ‘In March, one woman died and another was left seriously ill after drinking bootleg vodka.’
    • ‘The demand for illicit drugs is as strong as the nation's thirst for bootleg booze during Prohibition.’
    • ‘Alcohol was banned, yet many drank bootleg vodka.’
    • ‘This double CD of Ian Hunter's latest tour of Britain in support of his latest official release, the critically acclaimed ‘Rant’, is a bootleg recording.’
    • ‘Perhaps this has to do with the imprecision of live recording, but it almost sounds like a bootleg recording.’
    • ‘Rumours that a bootleg recording of him singing in the hotel bar still exists is just one of the enthralling tales which surround the famous venue.’
    • ‘I honestly thought it must be some kind of bootleg recording of one of the acoustic shows I did back in the late eighties.’
    • ‘Later, the islands were used as a smuggling stopover for arms in the civil war and for bootleg alcohol during Prohibition.’
    illegal, illicit, unlawful, unauthorized, unsanctioned, unlicensed, unofficial, pirated
    bootlegged, contraband, smuggled, black-market, under the counter
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  • Make, distribute, or sell (illicit goods, especially liquor, computer software, or recordings) illegally.

    ‘domestic bootlegging was almost impossible to control’
    ‘bootlegged videos’
    • ‘My first real business was bootlegging T-shirts.’
    • ‘It's also expected to cut down on the import of cheaper, bootlegged alcohol by lowering the cost of buying legally-ordered supplies.’
    • ‘Miles Davis's much bootlegged performances in Poland in the 1980s were signature moments in the decline of Polish Communism, symbols of a yearned-for freedom.’
    • ‘It's been bootlegged quite a lot though--check out your nearest record fair.’
    • ‘The VCDs are affordable and not bootlegged by illegal manufacturers,’ he said.’
    • ‘They bootlegged liquor during the depression, then went legit.’
    • ‘National prohibition provided lucrative illegal markets, which some Italian Americans successfully exploited through bootlegging operations.’
    • ‘In 2001, 29% of the pirated films seized were on DVD; so far this year 59% have been bootlegged DVDs.’
    • ‘Commerce Secretary Evans, in China, was complaining about bootlegged copies of American movies selling there for about $1.’
    • ‘I've also spoken to people whose work has been bootlegged.’
    • ‘For example, before we went into Louisiana, a lot of people were bootlegging our product into Louisiana, so when we arrived there, people already knew about it.’
    • ‘Trading standards bosses at North Yorkshire County Council say that over the past year, they have discovered a number of pubs putting bootlegged whisky, vodka and rum in popular branded bottles.’
    • ‘They have yet to cut an album, but a group of enterprising kids have recorded their concerts and are selling bootlegged cassettes all over the district at $4 each.’
    • ‘These tapes - amazingly by the standards of Dylan collectors - have never been bootlegged, but can be heard on the BBC documentary.’
    • ‘In a way I look at the fact it was bootlegged as a compliment.’
    • ‘So unless someone was helpfully bootlegging it, I don't know how you could hear the whole thing.’
    • ‘They were sold from a number of different accounts and the man did not say they were bootlegged or illegal in any way.’
    • ‘If you see a couple of mic stands being attended by some dude with a rock shirt, that show is probably being bootlegged.’
    • ‘Recently, their EP fetched over $500 on Ebay from a U.S. collector, with a German label's bootlegging of their unreleased ‘album’ only adding more fuel to the fire.’
    • ‘He's been involved in some illegal imports, you know, guns, drugs, bootlegged Metallica T-shirts; but we haven't been able to make anything stick yet.’
    illegal, illicit, unlawful, unauthorized, unsanctioned, unlicensed, unofficial, pirated
    bootlegged, contraband, smuggled, black-market, under the counter
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  • 1An illegal musical recording, especially one made at a concert.

    • ‘In a nearby record shop, most of the CDs by Western artists were decent-quality bootlegs.’
    • ‘Sometimes I feel like a studio album, other times a live bootleg from a concert I went to.’
    • ‘‘Your article focused on the dance community, but many of us are rock music fans and happen to buy concert bootlegs.’’
    • ‘Fortunately, live bootlegs of the track are readily available to even the most novice trader.’
    • ‘Seems ne'er-do-wells are pressing illegal copies of records and then selling bootlegs at much lower prices than official record shops.’
    • ‘In a sense the tinny and muddy nature of the production seems natural to the music, suggesting a connection to, say, the early 70s Zappa bootlegs that probably take up an entire wall of his apartment.’
    • ‘Now that this is packaged as a real release instead of a bootleg, it comes off as a substandard product.’
    • ‘At least one track has been available on bootlegs for years.’
    • ‘He owns all the albums as well as several bootlegs.’
    • ‘The is a hodgepodge of performances that also features a couple of readily available tracks, and the sound quality is for the most part no better than a good bootleg.’
    • ‘I have spent 15 years collecting Beatles bootlegs and am pleased to say that there are many excellent recordings of these sessions.’
    • ‘Partially broadcast by the BBC in 1982, a bootleg has been circulating ever since.’
    • ‘When you guys first hit the scene with your bootlegs, record companies gave you lots of flak.’
    • ‘Much to our chagrin, someone put out a bootleg recorded at rehearsals.’
    • ‘Many of them are bootlegs made by a sneaky soundman or concertgoer and are of a quality dubious enough to repel the casual listener.’
    • ‘In an effort to transcend the dodgy sound quality and high prices of bootlegs, the band has recorded every concert over the past three years.’
    • ‘I like my music with the rinds and the seeds and pulp left in - so the bootlegs I obtained in the Sixties and Seventies, where the noise and grit of the tapes became inseparable from the music, are essential to me.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, bootlegs of the finished product circulated, generating critical kudos, a groundswell of interest, and a bidding war among nearly 30 other labels.’
    • ‘Until last year, my only act of resistance involved trading copies of live shows and bootlegs on the internet.’
    • ‘This is one of those Italian bootlegs of live concerts.’
    fake, counterfeit, sham, fraud, imitation, dummy, mock-up, reproduction, replica, copy, print, lookalike, likeness
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  • 2American Football
    A play in which the quarterback fakes a handoff and runs with the ball hidden next to his hip.

    ‘he scored on a 29-yard bootleg on fourth down’
    • ‘It's not enough to just drop back in the pocket - you have to create, make things happen, roll out, bootleg.’
    • ‘Every time he throws, it needs to stem from the run, whether it's play-action or on bootleg, so he can avoid the pressure and not succumb to it like better quarterbacks have done.’
    • ‘As he continues to improve his pass rush, he must be aware of teams either running screens to his side or using naked bootlegs if the quarterback is mobile.’
    • ‘It looked like a monumental mistake when he faked a handoff and backpedaled as if to start a naked bootleg, only to find a couple of Saints in his way.’
    • ‘David Garrard also has had success on quarterback keepers and bootlegs off of play fakes.’
    • ‘The beauty of this scheme is that if defenders get wise and increase their backside pursuit, the quarterback can run bootlegs because the defense no longer has anyone to contain the outside perimeter.’
    • ‘Eagles coaches did not call a single bootleg or quarterback draw for the most talented QB runner in the sport.’
    • ‘Another problem that hasn't been changed is the inability to set your quarterback off on a scramble or bootleg without crossing the line of scrimmage first.’
    • ‘The Seahawks almost can guarantee they will get single coverage when they play-action to the left and then have Hasselbeck bootleg to his right.’
    • ‘He has proved he can catch 1-yard touchdown passes, but he hasn't shown he can get open when there isn't a play-action fake or bootleg.’
    • ‘The way things are going, they're better off passing or running a quarterback sneak or bootleg.’
    • ‘Garcia runs a bootleg for a touchdown, and the 49ers are back in it.’
    • ‘Still recovering from a broken leg, he can't make certain cuts or bootleg to his left without pain.’
    • ‘Eli's really good when he can play-action and bootleg.’


Late 19th century: from the smugglers' practice of concealing bottles in their boots.