insurgent

noun
in·​sur·​gent | \ in-ˈsər-jənt How to pronounce insurgent (audio) \

Definition of insurgent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government especially : a rebel not recognized as a belligerent
2 : one who acts contrary to the policies and decisions of one's own political party

insurgent

adjective

Definition of insurgent (Entry 2 of 2)

: rising in opposition to civil authority or established leadership : rebellious

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Other Words from insurgent

Adjective

insurgently adverb

Is insurgent a new word?

Insurgent is not a particularly novel coinage; it has been in use as both a noun and an adjective for well over 200 years. Appearances of the word began to spike in the early 21st century, however, due to a combination of factors (including the appearance of such combatants in conflicts and the desire among journalists to avoid words that might seem biased, such as terrorist or freedom fighter).

The definition of the noun, which includes the phrase “a rebel not recognized as a belligerent,” refers to a specific sense of belligerent: “belonging to or recognized as an organized military power protected by and subject to the laws of war.”

Examples of insurgent in a Sentence

Noun

Insurgents are trying to gain control of the country's transportation system. the government subjected the insurgents to the most inhuman torture imaginable

Adjective

any insurgent soldiers will be dealt with harshly
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Residents of a strategic eastern Afghan city began emerging hesitantly from their hiding places on Tuesday to assess the human cost and physical ruin from four days of fierce fighting between Taliban insurgents and government forces. Ehsanullah Amiri, WSJ, "Afghan City Gauges Toll After Taliban Siege," 14 Aug. 2018 The second strike targeted government civil servants in Ghazni province, which lies to the southwest of Kabul and is a bastion for the Taliban insurgents. Sayed Salahuddin, Washington Post, "Fresh violence kills over 15 in Afghanistan as Islamic scholars debate Taliban war," 10 July 2018 After all, the White House launched a strike on that very pretense last April, and the Syrian regime has already (allegedly) deployed chemical weapons against insurgents and civilians seven times this year. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "America Is About to Risk a World War to Defend the Credibility of Trump’s Tweets," 13 Apr. 2018 While serving in Iraq with Company D, 2d Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2d Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Staff Sergeant Atkins engaged in hand-to hand combat with a suspected insurgent. James Freeman, WSJ, "An Army Hero," 12 Mar. 2019 But even quick insurgent raids can capture expensive equipment. Jim Michaels, USA TODAY, "U.S. gives Humvees to Afghan army and then blows them up when they fall into Taliban hands," 6 June 2018 But on the other hand, Italy’s continuing political melodrama has demonstrated that Europe’s populist insurgents are under immense constraints. The Economist, "Political chaos in Italy as new elections beckon," 31 May 2018 Instead, and without intending to, the insurgents may actually save it. Joseph C. Sternberg, WSJ, "Saving Europe by Destroying It From Within," 14 Feb. 2019 The Taliban have not so far claimed either attack but the insurgents have recently stepped up assaults in both provinces and elsewhere in Afghanistan. Washington Post, "Afghan officials: Taliban kill at least 15 troops, 4 police," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Gunn-Wright, who served as policy director on the insurgent gubernatorial campaign of Abdul El-Sayed in Michigan, works for a relatively new policy shop called New Consensus, which spun off as the policy arm of Justice Democrats. David Roberts, Vox, "The Green New Deal, explained," 21 Dec. 2018 But the same organizers who’ve powered other upsets and insurgent campaigns this cycle have moved into Democratic-leaning Delaware. Fox News Staff, Fox News, "Sen. Tom Carper faces challenge in Del. primary," 6 Sep. 2018 The huge exodus of Rohingya from Myanmar began after security forces there launched a brutal crackdown following attacks by an insurgent group on guard posts. Wasbir Hussain, The Seattle Times, "Indian police arrest 61 Rohingya Muslims this week," 22 Jan. 2019 As some Democratic Party mainstays across the country fall to insurgent left-wing candidates, attention turns Thursday to Delaware, where a veteran senator faces a primary challenge from another political neophyte. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Democratic senator in Delaware latest to face leftist primary challenger," 6 Sep. 2018 Those diplomatic efforts, which began in July, are being led by Zalmay Khalilzad, a former U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Iraq, who has held talks with the insurgent group in the Gulf nation of Qatar. Saeed Shah, WSJ, "Top Taliban Commander Killed by U.S. Airstrike in Afghanistan," 2 Dec. 2018 Rohingya began fleeing into Bangladesh after Myanmar security forces launched a brutal crackdown following attacks by an insurgent group on guard posts in August 2017. Julhas Alam, The Seattle Times, "Bangladesh official: Rohingya repatriation ready to begin," 14 Nov. 2018 But the Shabab extremist group has carried out numerous attacks on the capital, and other insurgent groups including Al Qaeda have made gains in the country. Megan Specia, New York Times, "The Five Conflicts Driving the Bulk of the World’s Refugee Crisis," 19 June 2018 Too often, the rise of insurgent political parties and demagogues is viewed as the source of liberalism’s problems, rather than as a symptom. Casey Newton, The Verge, "A looming strike over Project Dragonfly is putting new pressure on Google," 30 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'insurgent.' 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 insurgent

Noun

1765, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1807, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for insurgent

Noun

Latin insurgent-, insurgens, present participle of insurgere to rise up, from in- + surgere to rise — more at surge

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Statistics for insurgent

Last Updated

3 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for insurgent

The first known use of insurgent was in 1765

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More Definitions for insurgent

insurgent

noun

English Language Learners Definition of insurgent

: a person who fights against an established government or authority

insurgent

noun
in·​sur·​gent | \ in-ˈsər-jənt How to pronounce insurgent (audio) \

Kids Definition of insurgent

: a person who revolts : rebel

insurgent

noun
in·​sur·​gent | \ in-ˈsər-jənt How to pronounce insurgent (audio) \

Legal Definition of insurgent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who rises in revolt against civil authority or an established government especially : one not recognized as a belligerent
2 : one that acts contrary to the established leadership (as of a political party, union, or corporation) or its decisions and policies

insurgent

adjective

Legal Definition of insurgent (Entry 2 of 2)

: rising in opposition to civil or political authority or against an established government

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