Know about the Words Used for Pirates

The word ‘pirate’ creates distinct types of feelings inside the people. Some of the people feel panic, whereas some others are fascinated remembering the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series, and fashionable pirate shirt. A number of names have been given to them according to their quality and geographical locations such as raiders, freebooters, sea rovers, wokou, waego, wako and jal dasyu, etc.

Raider: Raiding the ships and sometimes coastal areas and looting them was their profession. This is the reason why these people are often dubbed as the raiders.

Freebooter: They would roam freely across the seas and plunder the ships, and were known as freebooters also. The term ‘freebooter’ has come into English from Spanish ‘filibustero’. Freebooter was used before for the person who would go for unauthorized military expedition. Later on, this term became the synonym of pirate.

Sea Rover: Because of their occupation of plundering the treasure ships across the sea, they are also termed as sea rover.

Wokou, Waego and Wako: These were the names, which were given to the pirates by the people of Far East Nations in Asia. The Far East countries like China, Korea and Japan, were also ravaged by the fierce raiders in the medieval and early modern era. The pirate costumes of these raiders was different from that of the freebooters of the western world, but there was no difference in their intents. Wokou was the word, which was used in Chinese. The name Waego was its Korean pronunciation. The first letter of this word belongs to Japan as it was a belief among the people that pirate would come from that country. But, factually Japan itself was facing the problem of piracy, and the raiders would come from different nations. Surprisingly, some of the raiders used to come from the Portugal, a western country. In Japan, the pirates were termed as Wako.

Jal Dasyu: This is a Sanskrit word used in India for the pirates. The word ‘jal’ refers to ‘water’, and ‘dasyu’ means ‘robber’. So, the meaning of this word is ‘robber of the water’. India was also troubled with piracy up to some extent in the medieval and early modern period. Famous pirate ‘Captain Kidd’ attacked many ships of the Mughal Empire in India.

Apart from the abovementioned ones, we hear many other words also for the raiders, such as privateers, buccaneer, Viking and corsair etc. But, claiming them the synonym of ‘raider’ will not be correct, as they belonged to a specific community of sear rovers and not the pirate on the whole.


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