mi·​li·​tia | \ mə-ˈli-shə How to pronounce militia (audio) \
plural militias

Definition of militia

1a : a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency The militia was called to quell the riot.
b : a body of citizens organized for military service
2 : the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service
3 : a private group of armed individuals that operates as a paramilitary force and is typically motivated by a political or religious ideology specifically : such a group that aims to defend individual rights against government authority that is perceived as oppressive

Examples of militia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The street was barricaded by an armed militia that became increasingly violent and refused to let people pass, the lawsuit says. NBC News, 8 June 2021 The street was barricaded by an armed militia that became increasingly violent and refused to let people pass, the lawsuit says. Kate Brumback, Star Tribune, 7 June 2021 The hybrids are widely suspected of causing the virus and are hunted by a militia that calls itself the Last Men. New York Times, 4 June 2021 Another insurrection decades later, this time launched at Harpers Ferry in West Virginia by a multiracial militia led by the abolitionist John Brown, is now regarded as a precursor to the Civil War. Kandist Mallett, The New Republic, 18 Jan. 2021 Another plaintiff, Christopher McNeal, is Black and was confronted, commanded, assaulted and harassed by militia, according to the lawsuit. CBS News, 24 Sep. 2020 Like George Romero’s 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead—which ends when a Black man emerges unscathed after a night fighting off the undead, only to be shot by an all-white militia—the blood and guts add up to a social critique. Robert Sullivan, The New York Review of Books, 5 Sep. 2020 The incident highlights the government's struggles to assert the rule of law and reign in powerful militia groups. Star Tribune, 26 May 2021 The future of the U.S. 's military presence in Iraq has been the focus of strategic talks between Baghdad and Washington, with Shiite militia groups insisting on a timeline for withdrawal. Fox News, 24 May 2021

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

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

History and Etymology for militia

Latin, military service, from milit-, miles

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Time Traveler for militia

Time Traveler

The first known use of militia was in 1599

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Statistics for militia

Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Militia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for militia



English Language Learners Definition of militia

: a group of people who are not part of the armed forces of a country but are trained like soldiers


mi·​li·​tia | \ mə-ˈli-shə How to pronounce militia (audio) \

Kids Definition of militia

: a group of citizens with some military training who are called into service only in emergencies


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