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

Along with the economic challenges, Egypt also faces an insurgency by Islamic militants in northern Sinai. Hamza Hendawi, Fox News, "Egyptian president 'upset' over online calls for resignation," 29 July 2018 And brutal counter insurgency operations against Sikh separatists by Indian security forces occurred between 1984 and 1995. Ali Kazimi, Quartz India, "A Canadian artist is keeping the embers of Sikh separatism alive with false equivalences," 27 June 2019 For most of the 1990s and early 2000s, insurgencies in the north, northeast and parts of the west of Uganda were the primary source of Museveni’s justification for holding onto power, ostensibly to deal with the insecurity. Moses Khisa, Quartz Africa, "President Museveni has twisted Uganda’s constitution to cling to power," 21 June 2019 The outcome was to break the cycle of sectarian violence, deal severe blows to AQI and the broader insurgency, and create space for the nascent political reconciliation and progress that had begun to occur by 2007–08. Hal Brands, National Review, "Lessons from the Iraq War," 20 June 2019 Saudi Arabia has led a military intervention into a prolonged bloody civil war in neighboring Yemen, and has been in conflict with Yemen’s Houthi insurgency, which is believed to be backed by Iran. Gordon Lubold, WSJ, "Saudi Plant Struck by Missile, Apparently From Yemen," 20 June 2019 Both sides also funded revolutions, insurgencies, and political assassinations in Central America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "What was the Cold War?," 22 Mar. 2019 Remnants of the Taliban had transformed into an insurgency, primarily financed by heroin sales. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019 Just four years ago, Brat was the face of the conservative insurgency, unexpectedly dethroning one of the most powerful Republicans in America. Tara Golshan, Vox, "One of the Tea Party’s superstars is at risk of losing — to a Democrat," 1 Nov. 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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Statistics for insurgency

Last Updated

6 Aug 2019

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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 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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Comments on insurgency

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a period when something is suspended

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