mi·​li·​tia | \mə-ˈli-shə \

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

Examples of militia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

By the end of January of this year, children made up 800,000 of the 1.3 million people displaced by inter-ethnic violence by armed groups, and between such militias and the Congolese military, in the provinces of Tanganyika and South Kivu. Nick Turse, Teen Vogue, "The Democratic Republic of Congo Has Humanitarian Crises Leaving Millions of Children In Danger," 14 Nov. 2018 The Abdelsalam group represents a more direct cooperation, arming the Bedouin — who do not serve in the military — in a militia-like arrangement over a larger area. Brian Rohan, Fox News, "Egypt arming Sinai tribesmen in fight against Islamic State," 27 Sep. 2018 The events in Basra reflect the growing influence of the militias, which played a major role in retaking Iraqi territory from Islamic State militants, who are Sunni Muslims. Qassim Abdul-zahra, The Seattle Times, "Iraqi activist shot dead in tense southern city of Basra," 25 Sep. 2018 Syrian combat aircraft had been attempting to engage anti-government Kurdish and Arab militias, with U.S. aircraft attempting to stop them by flying low—but not using weapons to shoot the Syrians down. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "How a U.S. Navy Pilot Shot Down the First Enemy Plane in 18 Years," 11 Sep. 2018 Ahmed al-Kawkabani, a Yemeni who leads a pro-government militia known as the Tohama Brigade, told The Associated Press that his forces were positioned in Dawar al-Hodeida, just 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the airport. Ahmed Al-haj,, "Fighting intensifies outside Yemen's Hodeida airport as death toll reaches 280," 15 June 2018 Al-Sadr was once the leader of the Mehdi Army, a powerful Shia militia, which was blamed for some of the worst violence between 2005 and 2008 in Iraq. Dalila-johari Paul, CNN, "Populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's coalition wins Iraq's election," 19 May 2018 Turkey attacked Afrin in March to drive out the Kurdish militia, known as the YPG, which forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, America's main partner in Syria., "The Latest: UN Seeks Way to Address Chemical Arms in Syria," 9 Apr. 2018 But Turkey, a U.S. ally and fellow NATO Western military alliance member, has objected to Washington's support for Kurdish militias, which Ankara accused of harboring ties to the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Tom O'connor, Newsweek, "Russia Says it Will Attack U.S. Military if Trump Strikes Syria Again," 13 Mar. 2018

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

1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for militia

Latin, military service, from milit-, miles

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Statistics for militia

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for militia

The first known use of militia was in 1625

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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 \

Kids Definition of militia

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on militia

Spanish Central: Translation of militia

Nglish: Translation of militia for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of militia for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about militia

Comments on militia

What made you want to look up militia? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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