non·​com·​bat·​ant | \ ˌnän-kəm-ˈba-tᵊnt How to pronounce noncombatant (audio) also ˌnän-ˈkäm-bə-tənt How to pronounce noncombatant (audio) \

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

She and her mother and two younger sisters were interned as enemy noncombatants at the Ambarawa prison camp in central Java and spent the next three and a half years in captivity. New York Times, "Jan Ruff-O’Herne, Who Told of Wartime Rape by the Japanese, Dies at 96," 10 Sep. 2019 The noncombatants targeted by Assad were almost all Sunni, members of the country’s majority population, and so his actions plausibly fit the legal definition of genocide, which Power described in her first book as an irrefutable call to action. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, "The Moral Logic of Humanitarian Intervention," 9 Sep. 2019 Wanton killing of noncombatants, particularly in the twin 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, roused him from his jihadism. Graeme Wood, WSJ, "‘Nine Lives’ Review: Betraying al Qaeda," 31 July 2018 Calley, convicted of murdering 22 noncombatants, became the only person found guilty as a result of the incident. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, "Ernest Medina, company commander acquitted in My Lai Massacre, dies at 81," 14 May 2018 Insofar as reporters are committed to objective journalism and not political advocacy, they should be treated as noncombatants in the culture wars. Orrin G. Hatch, WSJ, "Geneva Conventions for the Culture War," 27 July 2018 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

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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Statistics for noncombatant

Last Updated

22 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for noncombatant

The first known use of noncombatant was in 1811

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More Definitions for noncombatant



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 How to pronounce noncombatant (audio) , 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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