MooT Question Icon
It derives from a Latin word meaning "run" and it denotes the Barbary-Coast Pirates who terrorized European shipping in the 17th and 18th centuries. What word is it?

Etymology, Etymology, and more Etymology
as well as grammar, usage, euphemism, slang, jargon, semantics, linguistics, neologism, idiom, cant, and argot.

A picture of a moot game

The critically-acclaimed board game MooT
consists of tough questions about the nuances of the English language.
To join our mailing list and get
free brain-twisting MooT questions sent to you irregularly,
enter your email address and then press submit.

E-Mail address:

Back to home page

Answer: corsair

The word corsair derives from the Latin cursarius, which in turn derives from the Latin currere, run. The Barbary Coast was the coast of North-West Africa where the Berbers lived.


Oh, a very nice etymological puzzle! Thank you for putting a little "arrrr" in my morning. I remember a model of Chevrolet, the Corsair, from the 1960s (?).
ctwordsmith at

From Webster's New Riverside University Dictionary, 1984. [OFr. corsiare < OProv. corsari < OITal. corsaro < Med. Lat cursarius < cursus, plunder< Lat. cursus, course.] "Course," then goes back to run.
dianep at

Nice puzzle. The answers still didn't help with the etymology. Until i figured out that: 1. "Course" can mean a path, to move swiftly over, and to hunt. 2. "Corsair" is often thought of as being nearly synonomous with "Pirate."

But the barbary Corsairs were charactarized as using particularily fast, light sailing galleys.

For more on the indo-european root "Kers" see this page:
mpecho. at

Copyright 1998-2009 Blair Arts Ltd. All rights reserved.