in·​sur·​gen·​cy | \ in-ˈsər-jən(t)-sē How to pronounce insurgency (audio) \
plural insurgencies

Definition of insurgency

1 : the quality or state of being insurgent specifically : a condition of revolt against a government that is less than an organized revolution and that is not recognized as belligerency

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Did You Know?

Insurgencies fall into the category of "irregular warfare", since an insurgency normally lacks the organization of a revolution, even though it has the same aims. Revolutions often begin within a country's armed forces, whereas insurgencies often arise in remote areas, where they gain strength slowly by winning the confidence of rural populations. An insurgency may be based on ethnic or religious identity, or its roots may be basically political or economic. Since insurgencies are rarely strong enough to face a national army head-on, insurgents (often called guerrillas) tend to use such tactics as bombing, kidnapping, hostage taking, and hijacking.

Examples of insurgency in a Sentence

there always seems to be insurgency of some type in that troubled country

Recent Examples on the Web

By morning, Logan had erased all evidence of Kendall’s involvement with the accident—as only extreme wealth can do—thereby cutting off his son’s insurgency and ensuring his cooperation for life. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "How Succession Skewers the Rich," 9 Sep. 2019 No wonder the Taliban’s leaders, at the helm of a profitable insurgency and confident of victory sooner or later, are not minded to compromise. The Economist, "Trumped by the Taliban," 5 Sep. 2019 The locus of resistance is expected to be in the Kashmir valley, home to about 7 million people, where a small but dogged insurgency and a lot of resentment exist. Jeffrey Gettleman And,, "As Modi addresses India, protests flare in Kashmir," 8 Aug. 2019 And an insurgency on India’s side of Kashmir has killed thousands of people over three decades, bloodshed that New Delhi claims Islamabad helps fuel. Alex Ward, Vox, "Pakistan cuts off diplomatic and economic ties to India over Kashmir power grab," 8 Aug. 2019 Many of them are not in school due to the insurgency and Ating hopes to change the numbers in her own little way. Aisha Salaudeen, CNN, "The woman risking her life to photograph the forgotten victims of war," 25 July 2019 In the years that followed, the nature of warfare changed, as urban insurgencies and terrorist cells became the dominant threats. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, "McMaster and Commander," 23 Apr. 2018 Taliban sources told NBC News that their negotiating team on Monday conferred via Skype with its leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the insurgency’s leader Akhunzada, before meeting again with the U.S. delegation later on Monday. NBC News, "Proposed U.S. deal with Taliban uses name of insurgency's former 'emirate'," 28 Aug. 2019 The move could drive more support to the protest movement, harden opposition against the Hong Kong administration and potentially trigger a pro-independence insurgency, the polar opposite of what Beijing wants to see. Los Angeles Times, "What if China sends paramilitary forces to crush the Hong Kong protests?," 16 Aug. 2019

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

1803, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for insurgency

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for insurgency

The first known use of insurgency was in 1803

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More Definitions for insurgency



English Language Learners Definition of insurgency

: a usually violent attempt to take control of a government : a rebellion or uprising


in·​sur·​gen·​cy | \ in-ˈsər-jən-sē How to pronounce insurgency (audio) \
plural insurgencies

Legal Definition of insurgency

: the quality or state of being insurgent specifically : a condition of revolt against a recognized government that does not reach the proportions of an organized revolutionary government and is not recognized as belligerency

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formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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