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

The Obama Administration, though, was preoccupied with Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak had resigned in February, and with the NATO bombing campaign in Libya to support the Libyan insurgents who would depose and murder Muammar Qaddafi in October. Charles Glass, Harper's magazine, "“Tell Me How This Ends”," 10 Feb. 2019 The jungles are thick with vegetation and teeming with Maoist insurgents called Naxalites who attack government officials with bullets, incendiary devices and land mines. Amrit Dhillon, The Seattle Times, "Poll workers journey to reach India’s most remote voters," 14 Apr. 2019 When the Arakan Army, an ethnic Buddhist insurgent group fighting for Rakhine autonomy, ambushed four police stations in early January, a prominent leader in the Ma Ba Tha movement, the Venerable Wirathu, condemned the attacks as terrorism. Jon Emont, WSJ, "Feuding Monks Expose Bitter Ethnic Buddhist Divisions in Myanmar," 9 Feb. 2019 Virtually all the violence carried out by Muslim separatist insurgents has been limited to Thailand's three southernmost provinces. Fox News, "Thai court finds 9 Muslim men guilty in Bangkok bomb plot," 25 Sep. 2018 Just hours before the Taliban’s Saturday announcement, at least 17 soldiers were killed when their checkpoint came under attack by Taliban insurgents in western Herat province, said Gelani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor. Rahim Faiez, BostonGlobe.com, "Taliban announce cease-fire over Eid holiday for 1st time," 9 June 2018 Those raids by Rohingya insurgents on police and army posts catalyzed the military’s brutal attacks on Rohingya civilians. Hannah Beech, New York Times, "Myanmar and U.N. Agree to Aim for Repatriation of Rohingya," 31 May 2018 Israel-West Bank Israel constructed a 400-mile wall in the West Bank in 2002 after a wave of attacks by Palestinian insurgents. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "From 7 to 77: There's been an explosion in building border walls since World War II," 24 May 2018 Dozens of videos on YouTube uploaded by insurgents show the power of small, suitcase-sized anti-tank missiles striking 50-ton main battle tanks. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Why Iraqi and Syrian Tanks Are Wearing This Weird MacGyvered Armor," 20 Jan. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The attack is likely to further complicate efforts to restart peace negotiations with the insurgent group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, and heighten tensions with Venezuela, where Colombian officials say ELN commanders operate freely. ... Kejal Vyas, WSJ, "Colombia Pins Police Bombing on Marxist Rebels," 18 Jan. 2019 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

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

26 Jun 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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