con·​scrip·​tion | \ kən-ˈskrip-shən How to pronounce conscription (audio) \

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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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 Olga had checked with the conscription office; Anatoliy was not on the rolls. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 South Korea operates a conscription system, which obliges all eligible men to serve about 20 months. New York Times, 21 Apr. 2022 While military experts have said the current conscription system is too short to provide adequate training, extending military service has long been a thorny issue for the government due to its unpopularity. Joyu Wang, WSJ, 4 Mar. 2022 And 14 years after doing away with the draft, a plurality of Poles favors bringing back some form of army conscription. Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, 3 July 2022 Female conscription in Ukraine is nothing new and women have been serving in Ukraine’s military since 1993 following Kyiv’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Caitlin Mcfall, Fox News, 9 July 2022 In the Soviet tradition, Russia still has mandatory conscription, though there are various exemptions. Thomas Grove, WSJ, 18 June 2022 In Kyrgyzstan’s case, the resistance culminated in a mass uprising against conscription into the Russian army in 1916 that was put down with appalling brutality. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 18 June 2022 Even as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine the Deputy Minister of Defense said there are no plans to expand the law even further to include additional groups of women subject to conscription. Caitlin Mcfall, Fox News, 9 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of conscription

1800, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for conscription

see conscript entry 1

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The first known use of conscription was in 1800

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Last Updated

17 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Conscription.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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