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

Definition of insurgency

2 : 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 The small unit, nicknamed the Green Berets for their official headwear, is often deployed to intercept terrorist activity or insurgency abroad. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "A woman soldier is joining the Green Berets -- a first for the Army Special Forces unit," 10 July 2020 The splinter group previously was not known to target Muslim civilians as part of its insurgency against the government. Washington Post, "Suspected jihadists fire on UN aid copter in Nigeria; 2 dead," 5 July 2020 Early in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson had sent the first American combat forces into the long-running civil war in Southeast Asia in an effort to stop the communist insurgency there. oregonlive, "Michael McCusker led 1970 Portland protests that terrified Oregon’s governor, sparked Vortex I; 50 years later, he still seeks truth," 13 July 2020 Security has long been a concern for aid groups operating in northeastern Nigeria, where humanitarian workers have been been kidnapped and killed amid Boko Haram’s decade-long insurgency. Washington Post, "Suspected jihadists fire on UN aid copter in Nigeria; 2 dead," 5 July 2020 The leaders of Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania met to discuss ways of strengthening security to stop a jihadist insurgency in the Sahel. The Economist, "Politics this week," 4 July 2020 India has been fighting an insurgency in Kashmir since 1989. Washington Post, "India to buy 33 Russian fighter aircraft for $2.43 billion," 2 July 2020 Efforts by the Pakistani security forces to put down the insurgency have led to disappearances and widespread accusations of abuses. Salman Masood,, "Gunmen wage deadly battle at Pakistan stock exchange," 29 June 2020 The group has been waging an insurgency for years, demanding independence for Pakistan's gas-rich southwestern Baluchistan province, which borders the southern Sindh province, where Karachi is the provincial capital. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, "Militant siege on Pakistan stock exchange leaves at least 3 dead," 29 June 2020

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 2

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Time Traveler for insurgency

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The first known use of insurgency was in 1803

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Statistics for insurgency

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Insurgency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for insurgency


How to pronounce insurgency (audio)

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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