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Borrowing from Spanish filibustero ‎(pirate), from French flibustier, from Dutch vrijbuiter ‎(freebooter), from vrij ‎(free) + buit ‎(booty) + -er ‎(agent). Same construction and cognate to English freebooter.


  • IPA(key): /ˈfɪlɪbʌstə(r)/
  • (file)


filibuster ‎(plural filibusters)

  1. A freebooter, or mercenary soldier.
    1890 These duties involved prodigious physical and mental exertion, in a climate deadly to Europeans. They also involved much voyaging in waters haunted by filibusters and buccaneers. But nothing appears to daunt Labat. As for the filibusters, he becomes their comrade and personal friend; – he even becomes their chaplain, and does not scruple to make excursions with them. — Lafcadio Hearn, Two Years in the French West Indies.
  2. (US, politics) A delaying tactic, especially the use of long, often irrelevant speeches given in order to delay progress or the making of a decision, especially on the floor of the US Senate.
    • 2010, "An own goal on gay rights", The Economist, 14 Oct 2010:
      Then, last month, before the survey was finished and for reasons still unclear, the Democrats abruptly tried to attach a repeal of the law to the defence appropriations bill, a stratagem the Republicans defeated in a filibuster.
  3. (US, politics) A member of a legislative body causing such obstruction.



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filibuster ‎(third-person singular simple present filibusters, present participle filibustering, simple past and past participle filibustered)

  1. To take part in a private military action in a foreign country.
  2. (US, politics) To use obstructionist tactics in a legislative body.
    • 1919, William Roscoe Thayer, Theodore Roosevelt: An Intimate Biography, Chapter 11.:
      But as the case had dragged on interminably, and he believed, and the world believed, and the Canadians themselves knew, that they intended to filibuster and postpone as long as possible, he took the common-sense way to a settlement.