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 Nicknamed the Green Berets for its official headwear, Special Forces units are often deployed to intercept terrorist activity or insurgency abroad. Amir Vera And Eileen Mcmenamin, CNN, "Illinois state's attorney identifies 3 killed in bowling alley shooting," 28 Dec. 2020 A decade ago, Taliban fighters waged a hit-and-run insurgency against U.S. and Afghan troops on the town’s unpaved streets and winding paths. Los Angeles Times, "The U.S. is rushing to the exit in Afghanistan. The Taliban is filling the gaps," 7 Dec. 2020 Afghan officials have expressed concerns that a rapid reduction in American troops could strengthen the negotiating hand of the Taliban, while the militants are still waging a full-fledged insurgency against government forces. Suzan Fraser, Star Tribune, "Chief Afghan peace envoy says US troops pulling out too soon," 21 Nov. 2020 The group's leaders have used online chat rooms to encourage members to meet in person and engage in military training to prepare for an insurgency against the U.S. government, Nessel's office said. NBC News, "Members of white supremacist group accused of intimidating Michigan family," 30 Oct. 2020 Watkins and Gorman, authorities said, used online chatrooms to encourage members to meet in person and engage in military training to prepare for the insurgency against the government. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Feds arrest leader of white supremacy group who ran 'hate camp' in Michigan," 29 Oct. 2020 In the country’s northeast, where the government has been fighting a decadelong insurgency against jihadist group Boko Haram, SARS is seen as an effective fighting force. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Young Nigerians Came to Protest Police Brutality. Then the Shooting Started.," 23 Oct. 2020 The abductions also come as Boko Haram and the Nigerian military may be investigated for war crimes in the rebels’ insurgency, which has lasted more than a decade. Sam Olukoya And Carley Petesch, The Christian Science Monitor, "#BringBackOurBoys: Hundreds of schoolboys abducted in Nigeria," 16 Dec. 2020 The Southern African Development Community is considering using a regional force to help end an insurgency in gas-rich northeastern Mozambique, NewsDay reported. Matthew Hill,, "Southern Africa May Fight Mozambique Islamists, NewsDay Reports," 15 Dec. 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

Time Traveler

The first known use of insurgency was in 1803

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Statistics for insurgency

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Insurgency.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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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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