para·mil·i·tary | \ˌper-ə-ˈmi-lə-ˌter-ē, 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

The dashing aviator, who previously led the Blackshirts paramilitary units, received a hero's welcome from the Italian-American community, and the downtown street was soon rededicated in his honor. John Greenfield, Chicago Reader, "Monument to fascist Balbo likely to remain, but aldermen could still rename street," 23 Apr. 2018 His mentor is a hate figure for many Colombians, who associate the successful offensive against the FARC during his presidency with atrocities by paramilitary groups. The Economist, "Colombia’s new president will struggle to heal his country’s divisions," 21 June 2018 His victory in the Sunday election would mark a triumphant return to center stage for Uribe - a divisive figure whose tenure in the 2000s was marred by allegations of links to deadly right-wing paramilitary groups. Anthony Faiola,, "'D.C. Colombian' squares off against former guerrilla as Colombians vote," 17 June 2018 More violence could further inflame a conflict during which police and paramilitary groups have killed at least 120 people in the past seven weeks. Juan Montes, WSJ, "Their Grandparents Toppled a Dictator. Now They Are the Revolutionaries," 9 June 2018 Courtesy He was taken to a private hospital where, shortly after Arelis and her family arrived, paramilitary groups surrounded the building. Kyra Gurney, miamiherald, "Amid worsening violence, Nicaraguans say crisis has reached 'catastrophic' proportions," 5 June 2018 Civil society groups alleged the attackers were members of paramilitary groups loyal to Ortega. Luis Manuel Galeano, The Seattle Times, "US citizen shot to death in Nicaragua’s capital amid unrest," 2 June 2018 Not the best idea, seeing as it's taken over by a paramilitary group during their visit. Lauren Le Vine, Redbook, "Rating 2013's Summer Movie Studs on Their Hot Husband Potential," 23 May 2013 At the time of her birth in 1929, her father was consolidating power as leader of the elite Nazi paramilitary corps known as the SS. Washington Post,, "Gudrun Burwitz, ever-loyal daughter of Nazi mastermind Heinrich Himmler, dies at 88," 11 July 2018

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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Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

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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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