mi·​li·​tia mə-ˈli-shə How to pronounce militia (audio)
plural militias
: a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency
The militia was called to quell the riot.
: a body of citizens organized for military service
: the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service
: 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 In confidential correspondence, the Governor of Bermuda and the Secretary of State for the Colonies sought advice from other colonial administrators on potential solutions to prevent the formation of Black militia. TIME, 12 Feb. 2024 In the months following, a broad coalition of militia groups backed by Iran have attacked U.S. targets more than 160 times for the U.S. support of Israel. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 11 Feb. 2024 Some of the most powerful militias are also keen to avoid a clash that would threaten their growing political and economic clout. Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, 11 Feb. 2024 The most likely outcome, experts say, is that the militias will pause — but not for long. Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times, 5 Feb. 2024 Iran has been using the excuse of the Gaza war to activate pro-Iranian militias — Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen — or Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq. Trudy Rubin, Twin Cities, 4 Feb. 2024 The militia has launched more than 30 attacks in commercial shipping lanes since November. Sunny Nagpaul, Fortune, 4 Feb. 2024 Late on Monday of last week, the United States and the United Kingdom staged attacks on Yemen, bombing military-equipment storage sites, missile launchers, and radar installations in the north of the country, much of which is run by a political and religious militia known as the Houthis. Nicolas Niarchos, The New Yorker, 31 Jan. 2024 Kataib Hezbollah is the radical Iraqi Shiite militia named by the Pentagon as the likely source of the attack. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 31 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'militia.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, military service, from milit-, miles

First Known Use

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of militia was in 1599

Dictionary Entries Near militia

Cite this Entry

“Militia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


mi·​li·​tia mə-ˈlish-ə How to pronounce militia (audio)
: a body of citizens with some military training who are called to active duty only in an emergency
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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