Early 15th century, in sense “sale of offices”, from Old French baraterie (“deceit, trickery”), from barat (“fraud, deceit, trickery”), of Unknown origin, perhaps Celtic. In marine sense of “unlawful acts causing loss to owner”, 1620s..
barratry (plural barratries)
- The act of persistently instigating lawsuits, often groundless ones.
- The sale and/or purchase of political positions of power.
- (admiralty law) Unlawful or fraudulent acts by the crew of a vessel, harming the vessel's owner.
- (sale or purchase of positions of power): simony
- “barratry”, in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–.