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1. an armed, privately owned vessel commissioned for war service by a government
2. a commander or member of the crew of a privateer



(1) A privately owned ship specially armed and allowed by a government to engage in military action against enemy ships. Privateers were known from the 15th to the 18th century in various European and American states.

(2) A private individual who has received special permission from the government to engage in privateering.

References in periodicals archive ?
30) Historians credit the expansion and development of the Western world from 1600 to 1815 to privateers.
Other notable Liverpool privateers were Fortunatus Wright and William Hutchinson.
Of course, public love affairs with successful privateers did not
Similarly, privateers help insulate ICs against targets' counter-assertions of patent infringement.
Buccaneers were pirates and privateers who operated from bases in the West Indies, and attacked Spanish shipping in the Caribbean.
However, privateers generally did not engage in ship-to-ship combat to gain control of the seas or to invade enemy territory.
Although widely known as a pirate, he was in fact a privateer, having the backing of the English crown to terrorise the Spanish.
In spring 1813, British warships and colonial privateers went on the offensive, ravaging US maritime trade in the Gulf of Maine.
But with the big money factory teams allowed to pit their wits against the privateer teams in the all new 'Evo' class, Tunstall admits he may be forced to race elsewhere.
His body was suspended in a gibbet, a kind of cage, on the Thames River as a warning to other privateers.
PRIVATEERS now own 90% of old people's homes in the UK.
Scourge of the Seas: Buccaneers, Pirates and Privateers examines the myths and realities of pirate life, examining the stories of adventure on the seas, the biographies of practicing pirates throughout history, and considering pirate ships and vivid battles alike.