Definition of contraband in English:


Line breaks: contra|band
Pronunciation: /ˈkɒntrəband


[mass noun]
  • 1Goods that have been imported or exported illegally: customs men had searched the carriages for contraband
    More example sentences
    • It means that if a policeman tries to use illegally obtained contraband as evidence to charge a suspect, the court will readily strike down such illicit evidence.
    • On the contrary, the moment a book becomes illegal contraband it is suddenly all the more desirable.
    • With legal imports in 1998 of $15 billion, contraband accounted for 25 percent of all imports.
  • 1.1Trade in smuggled goods: the salt trade (and contraband in it) were very active in the town
    More example sentences
    • It survived on contraband and piracy, trading cattle, hides, sugar, tobacco, and foodstuffs directly with other nations.
    • With caves, coves and beaches round the island, there was many a hiding place for smugglers, and contraband was a way of life on Portland - with even the man employed by the government to put a stop to the practice deeply involved.
    • But like drugs, and alcohol during Prohibition, black-market contraband always provides a means to acquire whatever is the forbidden fruit of the moment.
  • 1.2 (also contraband of war) Goods forbidden to be supplied by neutrals to those engaged in war.
    More example sentences
    • Lincoln also was the first Commander-in-Chief to declare medicines contraband of war.
    • International law has not precisely defined all classes of goods that are contraband of war per se.
    • Neutral goods, with the exception of contraband of war, are not liable to capture under enemy's flag.


Back to top  



More example sentences
  • He suggested that they be sent back to Africa, an idea which the contrabandists fiercely rejected.
  • Meanwhile, the military government looked the other way as the merchants and contrabandists made thousands.
  • In this case inevitably our small country becomes a base for drug smugglers, arms contrabandists and terrorists of all stripes.


late 16th century: from Spanish contrabanda, from Italian contrabando, from contra- 'against' + bando 'proclamation, ban'.

More definitions of contraband

Definition of contraband in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day kerf
Pronunciation: kəːf
a slit made by cutting with a saw