Definition of freebooter in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈfrēˌbo͞odər/


A pirate or lawless adventurer.
Example sentences
  • Powerful merchant companies drove the process forward, and on the outermost fringe or cutting edge of empire, the aggressive initiative often came from a bizarre mixture of adventurers, freebooters, and pirates.
  • Hence the term ‘filibuster,’ derived from the Spanish filibustero, or freebooter, meaning ‘pirate.’
  • Cantankerous, colorful, and roiled by clashing personalities, this eclectic confederacy of dirtbags, freebooters, and aristocrats represents the crowning ambition of working guides all across America.
pirate, marauder, raider;
bandit, bandito, robber;
adventurer, swashbuckler
historical privateer
archaic buccaneer, corsair



Example sentences
  • Similar standards did not exist elsewhere in a world much beset by brigandage, freebooting, dacoity and the insolence of outlaws.
  • But it would be small, often mutually competitive units of traders, freebooting adventurers, and penitential pilgrims who would make the running in the Mediterranean.
  • Like many other impecunious Caribbean drifters at the time, Dampier slipped into a life of freebooting and buccaneering, hopping from ship to ship, raiding Spanish vessels and towns.


Late 16th century: from Dutch vrijbuiter, from vrij 'free' + buit 'booty', + the noun suffix -er. Compare with filibuster.

  • filibuster from late 18th century:

    A filibuster was an 18th-century pirate of the Caribbean. The word links a number of languages, reaching back through Spanish and French to vrijbuiter, from vrij ‘free’, and buit ‘booty’, a Dutch word from which we also get freebooter. In the 19th century the Spanish filibustero was used for American adventurers who stirred up revolution in Central and South America, and filibuster came to be used in the USA to describe behaviour in congressional debates intended to sabotage proceedings. From this we get the current sense, ‘a very long speech made in Parliament to prevent the passing of a new law’, which links the long-ago pirates with politicians of today.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: free·boot·er

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.