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From a blend of privatization +‎ profiteer. Coined by George Lakoff in his book, The Political Mind. It describes a widespread and corrupt practice that has not previously had a name and, being nameless, has not been publicly aired or even notices as a single practice. The word previously existed with a related meaning, but has mostly gone out of use.



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privateer ‎(plural privateers)

  1. An unethical individual or group acting covertly with enabling, usually bribed, accomplices inside government to destroy a government’s ability to carry out some aspect of its moral mission of protection and empowerment, by transferring critical moral functions along with public funds. Privateers make considerable profits for doing these civic tasks without any public accountability. Examples of areas where privateers need accomplices include: public education; military functions; intelligence functions; monitoring food, drug, and product safety; interrogating prisoners; and disaster relief.
  2. (nautical) A privately owned warship that had official sanction to attack enemy ships and take possession of their cargo.
  3. An officer or any other member of the crew of such a ship.
    • Macaulay
      Kidd soon threw off the character of a privateer and became a pirate.
  4. (motor racing) A private individual entrant into a race or competition who does not have the backing of a large, professional team.


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privateer ‎(third-person singular simple present privateers, present participle privateering, simple past and past participle privateered)

  1. To undermine government’s moral mission to care for its citizens and to covertly steal public funds.
  2. To function under official sanction permitting attacks on enemy shipping and seizing ship and cargo; to engage in government-sponsored piracy.

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