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

Just outside the city, Murad Ebrahim, the leader of the paramilitary Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which negotiated the surrender of its weapons in exchange for self-rule, cast a vote for the first time in his life. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "Philippine Vote on Muslim Self-Rule Puts Christians on Edge," 21 Jan. 2019 The name most frequently leaked since last year has been Rio de Janeiro councilman Marcello Siciliano, who has been accused of ties to paramilitary groups, called militias, that control large swaths of western Rio de Janeiro. Sergio Ramalho, The Seattle Times, "Sister of slain Brazilian councilwoman calls for justice," 14 Jan. 2019 Hundreds of the activists, soccer fans and ultranationalists formed the Azov Battalion, a paramilitary force that has been fighting pro-Russia separatists in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk since 2014. Mansur Mirovalev,, "Deadly attack on Roma community in Ukraine is blamed on neo-Nazi youth," 25 June 2018 The military had doubled its standard troop level along the border, deploying snipers, special forces and paramilitary border police units, which specialize in riot control., "At least 15 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli military on Gaza border," 30 Mar. 2018 The military had doubled its standard troop level along the border, deploying snipers, special forces and paramilitary border police units, which specialize in riot control. Time, "15 Palestinians Killed, 1,000 Wounded by Israel Fire in Gaza Border Protests," 30 Mar. 2018 In August, a financing vehicle for a paramilitary organization in far west Xinjiang missed repaying interest and principal on $73 million in bonds, sparking investor jitters about more defaults. Josh Chin, WSJ, "China Protest Over Cash-Strapped City’s School Plan Turns Violent," 2 Sep. 2018 That person is Milkman, who isn’t a milkman but earned the nickname, rumor has it, because of the paramilitary practice of secreting bombs inside milk delivery crates. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Critical Mass of Absurdist Misapprehensions," 30 Nov. 2018 Prosecutors also accused Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard of providing arms and training for the militants. Fox News, "Bahrain prosecutors charge 169 over alleged militant ring," 25 Sep. 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

3 Feb 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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