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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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 In Canada, for example, in both world wars, conscription became a divisive issue that roiled the nation. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Past crises brought change. What will this pandemic bring?," 21 May 2020 Ancient censuses differed from modern ones in another way: They were usually used to establish and maintain individual entitlements or obligations, of taxation or conscription. Andrew Whitby, Wired, "A Brief History of the Census—and How Covid-19 Could Change It," 1 Apr. 2020 The Defense Ministry's decision will likely have important ramifications for the future of LGBTQI soldiers, as South Korea has one of the most stringent conscription laws of any democracy in the world. Yoonjung Seo And Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "South Korea to rule on first transgender soldier," 17 Jan. 2020 By the time my father arrived, the family’s story—the flight, the work camps, the loss of a first son to Red Army conscription—was all part of a past not often spoken of. Daniel Mason, The Atlantic, "For the Union Dead," 6 Apr. 2020 To lead the client-conscription effort, Eloy Guerra had enlisted his partner, Greg Warren, who in turn tapped Kristy Le, a young woman who spoke Vietnamese and had worked with him on the FEMA case. Francesca Mari, The Atlantic, "The Oil Spill, the Tort Lawyer, and the Clients Who Didn’t Exist," 16 Apr. 2020 Now, these women answer a call of duty every year at midnight on conscription day. Jill Gutowitz, Teen Vogue, "In "Motherland: Fort Salem," Men Are Irrelevant," 25 Mar. 2020 To comply with mandatory military conscription in Israel, which is traditionally considered a rite of passage after graduating high school, Kirel, 18, enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces last week and starts basic training on Feb. 17. David Caspi, Billboard, "Why Teen Pop Star Noa Kirel Chose to Leave the Limelight to Serve in Israeli Military," 11 Feb. 2020 Posters in Yiddish promise ultra-orthodox Jews an end to conscription. The Economist, "In search of a one-party solution A growing number of Jews are voting for Arabs in Israel," 27 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for conscription

Time Traveler

The first known use of conscription was in 1800

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Statistics for conscription

Last Updated

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Conscription.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce conscription (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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