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

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 She and her daughters were displaced from her home by paramilitary groups about 13 years ago. Washington Post, 9 May 2022 Besides land mines, the two greatest dangers to hikers in the Kurdistan Region are airstrikes and paramilitary groups. New York Times, 20 Apr. 2022 The shelling follows a long-running series of attacks on U.S. forces and their local partners in Iraq and Syria carried out by Iran and its allied paramilitary groups in the region. Jared Malsin, WSJ, 7 Apr. 2022 Even other paramilitary groups were uneasy with the Hutaree and notified authorities, according to a paper by Vanderbilt University sociologist Amy Cooter, who studies right-wing militancy. John Flesher, ajc, 6 Mar. 2022 Lang is one of a number of Americans who have reportedly either traveled to Ukraine over the last decade to fight for far-right paramilitary groups or have sought to do so. Jared Kofsky, ABC News, 28 Feb. 2022 Though the Houthis regularly exchange missile fire with the Saudis, the Emirates had been spared since withdrawing its troops from Yemen in 2019, while continuing to train and assist anti-Houthi paramilitary groups. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 21 Jan. 2022 Private paramilitary groups like the Ukrainian Legion run other sessions, for which their members pay all the costs., 26 Dec. 2021 Last month’s attack has underscored what intelligence officials and analysts describe as a growing threat to stability in the Middle East and beyond: the proliferation of attack drones, particularly among paramilitary groups with close ties to Iran. Anchorage Daily News, 9 Dec. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of paramilitary

1935, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of paramilitary was in 1935

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Paramilitary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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