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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The face of the coup, ibn Ouf was himself head of military intelligence during the brutal campaign to suppress the Darfur insurgency. Samy Magdy, The Seattle Times, "Sudanese army holds 1st meeting with protesters since coup," 13 Apr. 2019 The Trump administration had been increasing pressure on Pakistan until recently, accusing the country of doing too little to help stop the Afghan Taliban’s long insurgency. Ihsanullah Mehsud,, "US drone strike kills leader of Pakistani Taliban," 15 June 2018 Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, which is the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch separatists. Washington Post, "Gunmen kill police officer’s son, uncle in Pakistan," 20 June 2018 Baluchistan has also been the scene of a low-level insurgency by separatist groups that demand a greater share of the province's resources. Fox News, "IS suicide bombers attack Pakistani security post, killing 3," 5 June 2018 In an address to the chamber, Sissi vowed to continue working to restore stability, revive the economy, and combat an insurgency by Islamic militants. Samy Magdy,, "Egypt’s president begins 2nd term amid crackdown on dissent," 2 June 2018 Today, the army is credited with saving the nation from an insurgency by Islamist extremists in the 1990s and early 2000s., "Algerian Military Plane Crashes in a Field, Killing 257," 11 Apr. 2018 Iraq’s lawlessness offered fertile terrain for the insurgency to spread. ... Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "Islamic State’s Caliphate Is Gone, But Not Its Violent Extremism," 24 Mar. 2019 In one corner is President Muhammadu Buhari, the former military junta leader who returned to power in 2015 elections on a promise to defeat Nigeria’s Islamist insurgency and quell rampant corruption. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Nigeria’s Election Gets Under Way After a Stop-Start Runup," 23 Feb. 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.

See More

First Known Use of insurgency

1803, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about insurgency

Statistics for insurgency

Last Updated

14 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for insurgency

The first known use of insurgency was in 1803

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


highly pertinent or appropriate

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!