con·​scrip·​tion | \kən-ˈskrip-shən \

Definition of conscription 

: compulsory enrollment of persons especially for military service : draft During the war the armed forces were heavily dependent on conscription.

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Did You Know?

With its scrip- root, conscription means basically writing someone's name on a list—a list that, unfortunately, a lot of people usually don't want to be on. Conscription has existed at least since ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom (27th century B.C.), though universal conscription has been rare throughout history. Forms of conscription were used by Prussia, Switzerland, Russia, and other European powers in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the U.S., conscription was first applied during the Civil War, by both the North and the South. In the North there were pockets of resistance, and the draft led to riots in several cities. The U.S. abandoned conscription at the end of the war and didn't revive it until World War I.

Examples of conscription in a Sentence

young people who face conscription into the army

Recent Examples on the Web

Eritrea's system of compulsory conscription that led thousands of Eritreans to flee toward Europe, Israel and elsewhere. Jon Gambrell, Fox News, "Leaders of Ethiopia, Eritrea to sign accord in Saudi Arabia," 16 Sep. 2018 The country also remains on a war footing with indefinite universal conscription for the military that has prompted many thousands to flee the country and seek immigration to Europe. Paul Schemm, Washington Post, "Eritrea breaks silence and responds to Ethiopia peace overtures, will send delegation," 20 June 2018 During this time, millions of Koreans suffered under military rule, forced labor, and forced conscription into Japan’s armed forces. Alex Ward, Vox, "BTS, world’s biggest K-pop band, was dropped from Japanese TV over a nuclear bomb T-shirt," 9 Nov. 2018 The reconciliation could help bring Eritrea—a country so isolated it is often referred to as Africa’s North Korea—in from the cold and invigorate a moribund economy reliant on conscription and national service. Nicholas Bariyo, WSJ, "Ethiopia, Eritrea Reopen Border Crossings," 11 Sep. 2018 In recent years, many Eritreans have fled to Europe, Israel and African nations to avoid military conscription and what human rights groups say is harsh rule. Elias Meseret, Fox News, "Ethiopian, Eritrean leaders at concert for diplomatic thaw," 15 July 2018 South Korea has had conscription since 1949, and an army stint is viewed by many as a rite of passage in a country still technically at war with North Korea. Eun-young Jeong, WSJ, "Court Orders South Korea to Overhaul Hallowed Conscription Law," 28 June 2018 Some small countries with menacing neighbours, like Sweden and Lithuania, are resuming conscription for defensive purposes. The Economist, "If national service is so good, everyone should do it," 5 July 2018 Eritrea has become a major source of migrants fleeing toward Europe, Israel and African nations in recent years as human rights groups criticize its harsh military conscription laws. Washington Post, "Eritrea leader visits Ethiopia on Saturday in historic thaw," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'conscription.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of conscription

1800, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for conscription

see conscript entry 1

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Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for conscription

The first known use of conscription was in 1800

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English Language Learners Definition of conscription

: the practice of ordering people by law to serve in the armed forces

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More from Merriam-Webster on conscription

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with conscription

Spanish Central: Translation of conscription

Britannica English: Translation of conscription for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about conscription

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to enclose within walls

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