con·​scrip·​tion kən-ˈskrip-shən How to pronounce conscription (audio)
: compulsory enrollment of persons especially for military service : draft
During the war the armed forces were heavily dependent on conscription.

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 Thousands of others, wrapped in Israeli flags or beating drums, listened to a speaker urging the military conscription of the nation’s ultra-Orthodox religious population to share the burden of war. Shoshanna Solomon, The Christian Science Monitor, 24 Apr. 2024 On Tuesday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed new measures into law that are intended to boost army ranks through a mix of conscription incentives and penalties for draft dodgers. Dominique Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, 17 Apr. 2024 And to address its depleted ranks, Ukraine’s parliament passed a new law to expand military conscription this week. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 12 Apr. 2024 But many are already serving in the military, living in occupied areas or outside Ukraine, or have jobs or disabilities that exempt them from conscription. Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports,, 4 Apr. 2024 In 1998, the Supreme Court ripped up the longstanding exemption, telling the government that allowing Haredim to get out of conscription violated equal protection principles. Mick Krever, CNN, 24 Mar. 2024 Such aggressive conscription would also be politically unpopular for the president, though military commanders say the need for it is elementary. David L. Stern, Washington Post, 1 Feb. 2024 Many point to mandatory conscription as an example. Se Eun Gong, NPR, 10 Apr. 2024 Lowering the conscription age, which had been 27, was the most significant measure in a mobilization draft bill that has already seen thousands of amendments in parliament since the start of this year. Isabelle Khurshudyan, Washington Post, 2 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'conscription.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see conscript entry 1

First Known Use

1800, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of conscription was in 1800

Dictionary Entries Near conscription

Cite this Entry

“Conscription.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on conscription

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