Thursday, May 14, 2015

Senators & Pirates

As regular readers of this blog probably already know, I enjoy words and their origins...and I especially enjoy obscure words that relate to Ocracoke, or in today's case, pirates. I recently learned that the English word, freebooter (one who pillages and plunders, especially a pirate), derives from the Dutch words vrij (meaning free) + buiter (meaning booty). The French have a cognate,  fribustier or flibustier; and the Spanish have filibustero.   

In the mid-19th century a "filibuster" came to mean a meddler or troublemaker, especially a US citizen who interfered in the affairs of Central American nations. For example, William Walker (1824-1860) has been described as an "adventurer, filibuster, and revolutionary leader who succeeded in making himself president of Nicaragua (1856–57)."*

Of course, a filibuster also came to mean a long, windy senatorial speech intended to thwart passage of specific legislation. Regardless of your political persuasion (and I write this not to provoke partisan politics, but as interesting trivia related to Ocracoke and pirates!), you may be amused to discover that the word filibuster is related to pirates and senators.

You can read more about the word filibuster here:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article by island resident, Crystal Canterbury, about her very first visit to Portsmouth Village, on the last day of 2014. You can read Part I here:


1 comment:

  1. Kevin2:44 PM

    Great post! Senators are connected to piracy? I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked! "Filibuster" always makes me think of _Mr. Smith Goes to Washington_. I cry like a baby every time I watch that movie.