non·​com·​bat·​ant | \ˌnän-kəm-ˈba-tᵊnt also ˌnän-ˈkäm-bə-tənt \

Definition of noncombatant 

: one that does not engage in combat: such as

a : a member (such as a chaplain) of the armed forces whose duties do not include fighting

b : civilian

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Other Words from noncombatant

noncombatant adjective

Examples of noncombatant in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

What's needed is not more power, but the ability to place smaller bombs more accurately to minimize harm to civilians and other noncombatants. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Air Force Wants Adjustable Bombs That Can Unleash a Lot of Hell—or Just a Little," 24 Sep. 2018 Avoiding such conversations was untenable with service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, who were enmeshed in messy counterinsurgency campaigns that often involved close-range killing and noncombatants. New York Times, "The Wounds of the Drone Warrior," 13 June 2018 Reliable reports document that both sides have quartered troops in or fired from hospitals, blurring the line between combatant and noncombatant. Cynthia Buckley, Washington Post, "The war in Ukraine is more devastating than you know," 9 Apr. 2018 Seeing that there was an impasse, Kraus made an offer: He and the other Marines would surrender and turn over their equipment if the noncombatants were released. Michael S. Rosenwald, Washington Post, "‘How can you trust these people?’ The brutal ordeal of America’s forgotten Iranian hostage.," 11 May 2018 During the final months of Obama’s second term came a gesture toward transparency, an executive order requiring the White House to release annually the number of noncombatants killed by drone strikes outside war zones. Mattathias Schwartz, New York Times, "A Spymaster Steps Out of the Shadows," 27 June 2018 But watchdog groups and legal experts said the Pentagon may be grossly undercounting the number of noncombatants killed in airstrikes and other military activities due to a faulty system for investigating and counting possible deaths. Missy Ryan,, "U.S. military killed 500 civilians in 2017, Pentagon says, but watchdog groups say number far higher," 1 June 2018 While technically a noncombatant, Hansen was in the crosshairs of every defender of Okinawa. Justin Kenny, Post-Tribune, "Memories of Okinawa still fresh for Huntertown WWII veteran," 18 May 2018 About 100 miles to the south, at an expansive tent city at Camp Humphreys, the U.S.’s largest overseas military installation, officers simulated battle scenarios and coordinated an evacuation drill for noncombatants. Andrew Jeong, WSJ, "As U.S. and North Korea Talk Peace, Soldiers Prepare for the Alternative," 11 May 2018

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

1811, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for noncombatant

The first known use of noncombatant was in 1811

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English Language Learners Definition of noncombatant

: a person (such as a military chaplain or doctor) who is in the army, navy, etc., but does not fight

: a person who is not in the army, navy, etc.


non·​com·​bat·​ant | \ˌnän-kəm-ˈba-tᵊnt, ˈnän-ˈkäm-bə-tənt\

Kids Definition of noncombatant

1 : a member (as a chaplain) of the armed forces whose duties do not include fighting

2 : a person who is not in the armed forces : civilian

More from Merriam-Webster on noncombatant

Spanish Central: Translation of noncombatant

Nglish: Translation of noncombatant for Spanish Speakers

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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