in·sur·gen·cy | \in-ˈsər-jən(t)-sē \
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

With the museum show approaching, Meiselas headed back to Nicaragua, revisiting history in a place where former insurgents were facing an insurgency. David D’arcy,, "Susan Meiselas photography retrospective at SFMOMA," 12 July 2018 Nearly 3 million people have been uprooted since the Islamist movement Boko Haram began its insurgency here a decade ago, taking deliberate aim at education. Ryan Lenora Brown, The Christian Science Monitor, "Young Nigerians choose to fight Boko Haram with books," 20 June 2018 Turkey considers the Kurdish militia that controlled Afrin an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has fought a decades-long insurgency in Turkey and been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States. Umar Farooq,, "Syrian forces battling Assad seek unity through the National Army," 14 May 2018 Boko Haram, which was formed in Maiduguri, has killed more than 20,000 people in its nine-year insurgency. The Associated Press, New York Times, "Suicide Bombers Attack Market in Nigeria, Killing at Least 12," 17 Jan. 2018 Around 1,400 schools have been destroyed in Nigeria's Borno state as a result of years of Boko Haram insurgency, according to UNICEF. Stephanie Busari, CNN, "Mother of missing Chibok girl: Remember my daughter on her 20th birthday," 8 June 2018 In Tripura, a state that suffered a separatist insurgency until 2004, the BJP has set aside its nationalist credentials to ally with a party that had backed the independence movement. The Economist, "All hat and cattleIndia’s BJP government looks ever more like the one it replaced," 22 Feb. 2018 Anti-migration political insurgencies at home make compromise harder, as Angela Merkel is learning in Germany. The Economist, "Europe’s passport-free zone faces a grim future," 21 June 2018 Monitoring groups say the crackdown and insurgency that followed has caused the deaths of about half a million Syrians and sent 5 million more into exile. Louisa Loveluck, Washington Post, "Syrian army raises flag above city considered as birthplace of uprising against Assad," 12 July 2018

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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Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for insurgency

The first known use of insurgency was in 1803

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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 \
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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Comments on insurgency

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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