Student Dictionary

2 entries found for filibuster.
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Main Entry: 1fil·i·bus·ter
Pronunciation: primarystressfil-schwa-secondarystressbschwas-tschwar
Function: noun
Etymology: from Spanish filibustero, literally, "freebooter," probably derived from English freebooter
: the use of delaying tactics (as long speeches) to put off or prevent action especially in a legislative assembly; also : an instance of this practice
Word History One Dutch word has given us two different English words. The Dutch word vrijbuiter referred to a person who robbed openly and with force in wartime especially for personal gain. The English borrowed this word in the 16th century, translating it as freebooter. The word was later picked up by the Spanish, who kept the same meaning but altered it to filibustero. Both words stayed in the realm of history until the middle of the 19th century. Then soldiers of fortune went out from the U.S. to try to cause uprisings in Central American countries. The governments there accused these Americans of wanting personal gain more than justice and called them filibusteros. English-speaking journalists wrote this word as filibuster, making it sound more like an English word. Later in the 19th century, members of Congress who delayed passage of laws by means such as long speeches were compared to the adventurers of Central America, who were trying to overthrow legitimate rule. Filibuster then came to mean "the use of delaying tactics to put off or prevent the passage of laws."

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