U.S. Politics.

the use of irregular or obstructive tactics by a member of a legislative assembly to prevent the adoption of a measure generally favored or to force a decision against the will of the majority.
an exceptionally long speech, as one lasting for a day or days, or a series of such speeches to accomplish this purpose.
a member of a legislature who makes such a speech.

an irregular military adventurer, especially one who engages in an unauthorized military expedition into a foreign country to foment or support a revolution.
U.S. Politics. to impede legislation by irregular or obstructive tactics, especially by making long speeches.
to act as an irregular military adventurer, especially for revolutionary purposes.
U.S. Politics. to impede (legislation) by irregular or obstructive tactics, especially by making long speeches.
Contemporary Examples

Lieberman to filibuster Public Option as ‘Matter of Conscience’
November 8: Top 8 Moments from Sunday Talk The Daily Beast Video November 7, 2009

The DFA campaign urges members to ask Democrats to strip any filibuster proponents of their chairmanships.
The Netroots Take the Gloves Off Art Levine October 30, 2009

I was so proud of him, to see him in that 21-hour filibuster, that gave me great hope.
Five Tea Party Challengers: The Ted Cruz Wannabes Patricia Murphy December 26, 2013

Yet it took a 13-hour filibuster by the libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to get a simple—and still squirrely!
Obama’s War on Journalism: ‘An Unconstitutional Act’ Nick Gillespie May 21, 2013

They still control the House, and they have a large enough minority in the Senate to filibuster.
Why Republican Efforts to Block Obama Won’t Work This Time Michael Tomasky December 15, 2012

Historical Examples

Even “filibuster,” the name of our next camp, elicited no remark from me.
Vanished Arizona Martha Summerhayes

Had he failed, he would have been stigmatized as a filibuster.
Aztec Land Maturin M. Ballou

After some moments of silence he asked the captain, “Who is this man, this filibuster whom they term the Whirlwind?”
A Romance of the West Indies Eugne Sue

Had it eventuated in failure, its leader would have been pronounced a pirate and filibuster.
Aztec Land Maturin M. Ballou

Sometimes I pretended that she was an American man-of-war, and sometimes a filibuster escaping from an American man-of-war.
Captain Macklin Richard Harding Davis

the process or an instance of obstructing legislation by means of long speeches and other delaying tactics
Also called filibusterer. a legislator who engages in such obstruction
a buccaneer, freebooter, or irregular military adventurer, esp a revolutionary in a foreign country
to obstruct (legislation) with delaying tactics
(intransitive) to engage in unlawful and private military action

1580s, flibutor “pirate,” probably ultimately from Dutch vrijbuiter “freebooter,” a word which used of pirates in the West Indies in Spanish (filibustero) and French (flibustier) forms, either or both of which gave the word to American English (see freebooter).

Used 1850s and ’60s of lawless adventurers from the U.S. who tried to overthrow Central American governments. The legislative sense is not in Bartlett (1859) and seems not to have been in use in U.S. legislative writing before 1865. Probably the extension in sense is because obstructionist legislators “pirated” debate or overthrew the usual order of authority. Not technically restricted to U.S. Senate, but that’s where the strategy works best.

1853 in both the freebooting and the legislative senses, from filibuster (n.). Related: Filibustered; filibustering.
filibuster [(fil-uh-bus-tuhr)]

A strategy employed in the United States Senate, whereby a minority can delay a vote on proposed legislation by making long speeches or introducing irrelevant issues. A successful filibuster can force withdrawal of a bill. Filibusters can be ended only by cloture.


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