Definition of bottomry in US English:



  • A system of merchant insurance in which a ship is used as security against a loan to finance a voyage, the lender losing the investment if the ship sinks.

    • ‘I wrote a history of insurance and bottomry was one of the terms.’
    • ‘In a simple loan, the interest, among merchants, could not exceed the rate fixed by the Prince, or, at most the custom of the country; whereas, bottomry may carry any interest.’
    • ‘‘Honestly, I don't wish to be seen as a Johnny One-Note,’ he assured Ms. Winfrey, ‘but in the end, it really all comes back to the bottomry.’’
    • ‘Some of the more technical errors, like confusing ‘bottomry’ loans (on ships) with ‘respondentia’ loans (on cargo), would perhaps be partially understandable were not the author a legal scholar.’
    • ‘That the bottomry bond of 27th October, 1796, was given for monies long before advanced, and to be advanced, and not for necessaries advanced upon the credit of this security on the ship.’
    • ‘That is true; but if a man is to mix himself up in the double capacity of agent and advancing on bottomry, and then to shift his capacity to please himself, the Court never can do justice.’
    • ‘This general rule of construction should especially guide a court of admiralty in interpreting a contract of bottomry and respondentia.’
    • ‘They had the authority to use bottomry bonds and respondentia bonds to clear off charges against the ship.’
    • ‘The agreement or contract of bottomry is embodied in a bottomry bond.’


Late 16th century: from bottom (in the sense ‘ship’) + -ry, influenced by Dutch bodemerij.