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 More than 2,000 members of the military, paramilitary groups and police took part in the search-and-rescue operation, including soldiers expert in mountaineering, working into the night under bright halogen lights, authorities said. Time, "140 Are Missing After a Glacier Breaks in India's Himalayas," 8 Feb. 2021 Those facing conspiracy charges include three people affiliated with the Oath Keepers, a paramilitary group. Kevin Freking, Star Tribune, "Riot aftermath: Still-shaken lawmakers, troops stand guard," 6 Feb. 2021 Rittenhouse, who is white, traveled to Kenosha on Aug. 25 after a paramilitary group put out a call on social media for people to protect businesses amid unrest. Todd Richmond, ajc, "Judge sets bail hearing for Kyle Rittenhouse next week," 5 Feb. 2021 Gieswein, who runs a private paramilitary training group called the Woodland Wild Dogs, was among the early wave of invaders to breach the building, court papers say. Katie Benner,, "Justice Department charges militia members, including military veterans, in Capitol assault," 18 Jan. 2021 The agent said Gieswein, who was seen wearing goggles and military-style gear, appears to run a private paramilitary training group, the Woodland Wild Dogs. NBC News, "Cowboys for Trump founder arrested after allegedly leading Capitol rioters in prayer," 18 Jan. 2021 Amid the chaos, former members of Patriot of Ukraine, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group, established Azov. Aris Roussinos, Harpers Magazine, "The Armies of the Right," 5 Jan. 2021 Badi Hasisi, chairman of Hebrew University’s Institute of Criminology, said violence was ingrained in the culture of the Israeli police force, which grew out of the paramilitary force the British maintained in Palestine. New York Times, "An Autistic Man Is Killed, Exposing Israel’s Festering Police Brutality Problem," 7 Dec. 2020 In 1981, a coup d'état bid by a few members of a paramilitary police force ended when then-King Juan Carlos I, Felipe's father, condemned the plot on national television. CiarÁn Giles, Star Tribune, "Spain: Military chief dismisses far-right ex-military chats," 4 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for paramilitary

Time Traveler

The first known use of paramilitary was in 1935

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Statistics for paramilitary

Last Updated

23 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Paramilitary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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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