guer·​ril·​la | \ gə-ˈri-lə , ge-, g(y)i-\
variants: or guerilla

Definition of guerrilla

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who engages in irregular warfare especially as a member of an independent unit carrying out harassment and sabotage (see sabotage sense 2) Guerrillas controlled half the country.



Definition of guerrilla (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or suggestive of guerrillas especially in being aggressive, radical, or unconventional guerrilla warfare

Examples of guerrilla in a Sentence


The guerrillas controlled half the country.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Throughout the war, especially in border areas like Missouri or Unionist enclaves like western North Carolina, guerrillas preyed on soldiers and civilians alike, affecting, Mr. Sheehan-Dean estimates, at least a third of the Southern population. Drew Gilpin Faust, WSJ, "‘The War for the Common Soldier’ and ‘The Calculus of Violence’ Review: Billy Yank and Johnny Reb," 7 Dec. 2018 The nature of warfare—or at least the wars the U.S. Army is willing to prepare for—is shifting away from the guerrilla wars of the 9/11 era to big power competition and preparation for the Army to fight full-scale land battles. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Army Will Pit Two Light Tank Designs Against One Another," 18 Dec. 2018 Ultraviolent cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar is long dead and Colombia’s half-century-old guerrilla war is over. John Otis, WSJ, "Colombia Wants to Boost Its National Sport. That Might Mean Less Beer.," 4 Dec. 2018 Peru’s years of soccer failures came as the country struggled to cope with political and economic crises as well as a destructive, and prolonged, guerrilla war with the Maoist insurgent group Shining Path. Tariq Panja, New York Times, "Peru Invades Russia. Well, at Least Many of Its Fans Have.," 16 June 2018 After some Scottish military gains, the English defeated de Moray and Wallace, and a grueling guerrilla campaign followed. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "'Outlaw King' vs. 'Braveheart': Which Movie Gets Scotland Right?," 13 Nov. 2018 According to the official narrative, Kim Il Sung saved the Korean Peninsula with daring guerrilla raids against Japanese invaders from his base on the slopes of Paektu. Fox News, "The Latest: Trump welcomes 'tremendous progress' with NKorea," 19 Sep. 2018 Think of the tunnels that Viet Cong guerrilla fighters used during the Vietnam War, or German underground facilities during World War II. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The U.S. Military Wants Drones To Fly Through Enemy Caves and Map Them," 4 Oct. 2018 Vanguard University nursing program graduate Miguel Rosado remembers hiding on rooftops and in bushes from both the army and guerrilla fighters while growing up in El Salvador. Daniel Langhorne,, "Salvadoran civil war refugee among Vanguard nursing graduates honored at pinning ceremony," 4 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Maybe a little too guerrilla style for some of the crews. Gary Thompson,, "Tommy Chong: 'The whole reason for making marijuana illegal was to prosecute black and brown people'," 5 Apr. 2018 Her interviews were guerrilla achievements and global events. Dwight Garner, New York Times, "The Life of Oriana Fallaci, Guerrilla Journalist," 16 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'guerrilla.' 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 guerrilla


1809, in the meaning defined above


1811, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for guerrilla

Noun and Adjective

Spanish guerrilla, from diminutive of guerra war, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German werra strife — more at war

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Statistics for guerrilla

Last Updated

24 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for guerrilla

The first known use of guerrilla was in 1809

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More Definitions for guerrilla



English Language Learners Definition of guerrilla

: a member of a usually small group of soldiers who do not belong to a regular army and who fight in a war as an independent unit


variants: or guerilla \ gə-​ˈri-​lə \

Kids Definition of guerrilla

: a member of a group carrying on warfare but not part of a regular army

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Comments on guerrilla

What made you want to look up guerrilla? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


irregularly rounded

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