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

Bell envisioned a whole family of systems that used jet turbines to propel American fighting men into the air—where they could be easily shot down by guerrillas with rifles. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "U.S. Troops Could Have Fought the Vietnam War With Jetpacks," 1 Aug. 2018 Last month, Kardashian West debuted unreleased Yeezy pieces guerrilla-style with her sister Kylie and also made her grand return to Paris Fashion Week, donning Virgil Abloh’s inaugural men’s collection for Louis Vuitton. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Kim Kardashian West Reveals a New Yeezy Look: Spandex and Slouchy Boots," 3 July 2018 Mr Duque is aligned with Álvaro Uribe, a former president and critic of the peace deal with FARC guerrillas. The Economist, "Politics this week," 31 May 2018 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

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

21 Feb 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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