para·​mil·​i·​tary | \ ˌper-ə-ˈmi-lə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce paramilitary (audio) , ˌpa-rə-\

Definition of paramilitary

: of, relating to, being, or characteristic of a force formed on a military pattern especially as a potential auxiliary military force a paramilitary border patrol paramilitary training

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Other Words from paramilitary

paramilitary noun

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This term paramilitary can take in a wide range of organizations, but is usually applied to forces formed by a government. Groups opposing a government, even when organized along military lines, are more often referred to as guerrillas or insurgents. In countries with weak central governments (such as, in recent times, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, or Congo), warlords may form their own paramilitary forces and take over all local police and military functions. Paramilitary often has a sinister sound today, since it's also applied to groups of off-duty military or police personnel who carry out illegal violence, often at night, with the quiet support of a government.

Examples of paramilitary in a Sentence

Government forces have been attacked by heavily armed paramilitary groups in several villages.

Recent Examples on the Web

In February, a Kashmiri suicide attacker rammed a van full of explosives into an Indian paramilitary convoy, killing more than 40 people and wounding more than two dozen. Washington Post, "Kashmiris allege night terror by Indian troops in crackdown," 12 Sep. 2019 After the fall of the Taliban and the establishment of a new Afghan government, the C.I.A.’s shadowy paramilitary arm, known as Ground Branch, began transforming the fighting groups. New York Times, "Trump Administration Officials at Odds Over C.I.A.’s Role in Afghanistan," 2 Sep. 2019 Tens of thousands of paramilitary personnel and police are posted across the state in anticipation of potential problems resulting from the list’s publication. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Nearly 2 million people in India have just been rendered stateless by a bureaucratic act," 31 Aug. 2019 Hackers working for the US government wiped out a database and computer systems that Iran’s paramilitary arm used to plan attacks against oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "US hack attack hobbles Iran’s ability to target oil tankers, NYT says," 28 Aug. 2019 Its long-term goal is to get Hezbollah and its Shiite paramilitary allies in Iraq into more government positions and build up their parallel-state structures of armed fighters and bases. Seth J. Frantzman, National Review, "Israel’s Strategy against Tehran: Revealing the Iranian Threat," 27 Aug. 2019 The paramilitary commander is said to be one of the richest men in Sudan, having strong-armed his way into the gold business. The Economist, "A power-sharing deal in Sudan paves the way for civilian rule," 22 Aug. 2019 Two plainclothes paramilitary police officers, including Cerciello Rega, responded to the scene. Lauren Hernández,, "Family of teen arrested in Rome officer’s fatal stabbing say public has ‘incomplete account’," 4 Aug. 2019 But real power resides with his deputy, Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, who commands a paramilitary group of perhaps 30,000 men. The Economist, "The Sudan peace deal is greeted with little excitement," 8 July 2019

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

1935, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for paramilitary

Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for paramilitary

The first known use of paramilitary was in 1935

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English Language Learners Definition of paramilitary

: of or relating to a group that is not an official army but that operates and is organized like an army

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Comments on paramilitary

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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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