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

In areas controlled by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), an alliance of left-wing guerrilla groups that revolted against the government, women were free to have abortions. Juan Carlos, Marie Claire, "This Is What a World Without Reproductive Rights Would Be Like," 25 Apr. 2016 Although the rebel group FARC signed a peace treaty with Colombia in 2016 and gave up its weapons last summer, the guerrillas known as the National Liberation Army continue to prepare for more armed rebellion., "From the Colombian jungle, a rare look at the young rebels fighting the government," 11 June 2018 Nonetheless, the historic process has allowed FARC militants to re-enter civilian life; the guerrilla organization, too, has transitioned into a political party. Martha Pskowski, The New Republic, "The Radical Amnesty Plan of Mexico’s Next President," 2 July 2018 The students assembled in neat rows under a statue of Kim Jong Suk, a North Korean guerrilla hero and the first wife of then-leader Kim Il Sung. Brian Murphy,, "Outspoken North Korean defectors allow themselves to wonder: Could they really go home again?," 10 June 2018 But many see the ageing guerrilla himself as part of the problem. The Economist, "Uganda’s politicised police force is not reducing crime," 5 July 2018 But Duterte delayed the resumption indefinitely to allow public consultations, antagonizing the guerrillas. Jim Gomez, Fox News, "Philippines wants rebels 'encamped' in fixed areas for talks," 4 July 2018 At the peak of drug cartel violence in the 1980s and early 1990s, four presidential candidates were assassinated, and the guerrillas made voting impossible in some areas. Matthew Bristow,, "Colombia Elects Pro-Market Lawyer Duque in Presidential Runoff," 17 June 2018 Posada is tracking that trend in another landscape once occupied by guerrillas: the rainy, high-altitude páramo of Chingaza national park, a treeless ecosystem that supplies 80% of Bogotá's water. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, "Colombian scientists race to study once-forbidden territory before it is lost to development—or new conflict," 26 Apr. 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


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


see guerrilla entry 1

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Statistics for guerrilla

Last Updated

14 Nov 2018

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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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