Piracy, Pirates

(5818 words)
  • Nicholas Seager (Keele University)

Introductory Overview

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a pirate as “one who robs or plunders on the sea, navigable rivers, etc; a sea-robber”. The English word “pirate” (dating from the fourteenth century) derives from the Latin pirata and in turn from the Greek (third/fourth century BCE). Although “piracy” has recently come to signify intellectual property theft, and even the hijacking of aircraft, this essay addresses the traditional sense: maritime attacks by rovers and the efforts to contain their actions. Popular culture nurtures the image of the pirate as a charismatic transhistorical individual, but it is a phenomenon with social, political and …

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Citation:
Seager, Nicholas. "Piracy, Pirates". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 July 2007
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1736, accessed 24 April 2014.]