Letters-of-marque meaning

A document issued by a government in a time of war allowing private ships to attack the ships and seize the property and citizens of a hostile nation.
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A former government document authorizing an individual to make reprisals on the subjects of an enemy nation, specif. to arm a ship and capture enemy merchant ships and cargo.
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Origin of letters-of-marque

  • Middle English letters of mark from Old French marque mark, seizure, reprisal marquetry
    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition