c. 1300 (mid-13c. as a surname), from Latin pirata "sailor, corsair, sea robber" (source also of Spanish, Italian pirata, Dutch piraat, German Pirat), from Greek peirates "brigand, pirate," literally "one who attacks" (ships), from peiran "to attack, make a hostile attempt on, try," from peira "trial, an attempt, attack," from PIE *per-ya-, suffixed form of root *per- (3) "to try, risk."
An Old English word for it was sæsceaða. Meaning "one who takes another's work without permission" first recorded 1701; sense of "unlicensed radio broadcaster" is from 1913.
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