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noun (1)

par·​ti·​san ˈpär-tə-zən How to pronounce partisan (audio) -sən How to pronounce partisan (audio)
 chiefly British  ˌpär-tə-ˈzan
variants or less commonly partizan
: a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person
especially : one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance
political partisans who see only one side of the problem
: a member of a body of detached light troops making forays and harassing an enemy
Peasant partisans assaulted the French army.
: a member of a guerrilla band operating within enemy lines
Polish partisans had blown up two trainsSpringfield (Massachusetts) Union
ˈpär-tə-zən-lē How to pronounce partisan (audio)
 chiefly British  ˌpär-tə-ˈzan-


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: feeling, showing, or deriving from strong and sometimes blind adherence to a particular party, faction, cause, or person : exhibiting, characterized by, or resulting from partisanship
partisan politics
partisan loyalty
Secularism is indeed correlated with greater tolerance of gay marriage and pot legalization. But it's also making America's partisan clashes more brutal.Peter Beinart
The editorial page of the newspaper captured the mood of an America frustrated by partisan division …Joseph Cress
The modern Democratic party may honor the cerebral Jefferson as one of its founders, but the true paternity lies with the fiercely partisan Jackson. He made it a fighting electoral force.Bernard A. Weisberger
: of, carried on by, or being military partisans
partisan fighters
partisan warfare


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noun (2)

par·​ti·​san ˈpär-tə-zən How to pronounce partisan (audio)
variants or partizan
: a weapon of the 16th and 17th centuries with long shaft and broad blade

Did you know?

Partisan and Politics

A partisan is someone who supports one part or party. Sometimes the support takes the form of military action, as when guerrilla fighters take on government forces. But partisan is actually most often used as an adjective, usually referring to support of a political party. so if you're accused of being too partisan, or of practicing partisan politics, it means you're mainly interested in boosting your own party and attacking the other one.

Choose the Right Synonym for partisan

follower, adherent, disciple, partisan mean one who gives full loyalty and support to another.

follower may apply to people who attach themselves either to the person or beliefs of another.

an evangelist and his followers

adherent suggests a close and persistent attachment.

adherents to Marxism

disciple implies a devoted allegiance to the teachings of one chosen as a master.

disciples of Gandhi

partisan suggests a zealous often prejudiced attachment.

partisans of the President

Examples of partisan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
All this has emboldened right-wing politicians to question findings of global warming, turning the climate crisis into just another partisan culture battle. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sep. 2023 Legal experts expect to see a patchwork of policies that fall along partisan lines. Karina Elwood, Washington Post, 20 Sep. 2023 Yet Rafter won by 12 points — an 18-point Democratic overperformance above their partisan baseline. Nathaniel Rakich, ABC News, 20 Sep. 2023 Now, the White House has requested from Congress an additional $24 billion in Ukraine aid that seems likely to become entangled in partisan spending fights this fall. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, 19 Sep. 2023 The American Library Association is facing a partisan firefight unlike anything in its almost 150-year history. Hannah Natanson, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Sep. 2023 Critics saw the move as a throwback to the corrupt 19th-century patronage system, when all federal jobs were partisan spoils rather than based on merit. Jonathan Swan,, 15 Sep. 2023 On mainland Greece, Nazi atrocities unfolded in a similar fashion, with German troops targeting communities overtly or even tangentially linked to partisan activity. Carolyn Hagler, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Sep. 2023 But with a more partisan media environment, the power of social media and campaign finance laws that have moved money away from parties to outside groups and political action committees, the institutional parties themselves have become weaker. Dan Balz, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Sep. 2023
Except for a rally effect around then-President Bush after the 9/11 attacks — a time when partisans came together on many issues — these large partisan splits on evaluations of the economy began to materialize. Jennifer De Pinto, CBS News, 14 Aug. 2023 What had been a painful but relatively contained political scandal that animated mainly partisans on the right could now extend for months just as the president is gearing up for his re-election campaign. Peter Baker, New York Times, 11 Aug. 2023 Once a pluralist politician from the Indian National Congress—the main opposition party—Singh joined the BJP in 2017 and has positioned himself as a Meitei partisan since 2022. Sushant Singh, Foreign Affairs, 4 Sep. 2023 Trust in corporate America has eroded recently in part due to the nation's deep political divide, stoking scrutiny among some partisans regarding whether companies have sided with the opposing party, Richard Pildes, a constitutional law professor at New York University, told ABC News. Max Zahn, ABC News, 21 Aug. 2023 He is, depending on the perspective, a serial lawbreaker finally being brought to justice or a victim of persecution by partisans intent on keeping him out of office. Peter Baker, New York Times, 15 Aug. 2023 Read full article What had been a painful but relatively contained political scandal that animated mainly partisans on the right could now extend for months just as the president is gearing up for his reelection campaign. Peter Baker,, 12 Aug. 2023 Each was a solid governor, and neither was a crude partisan. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 27 July 2023 Mintz details the process of collecting and editing footage of countless interview subjects to tell the heroic story of Jewish partisans during the Second World War. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'partisan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun (1)

Middle French partisan, from north Italian dialect partiźan, from part part, party, from Latin part-, pars part

Noun (2)

Middle French partisane, from north Italian dialect partiźana, feminine of partiźan

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1555, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1708, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun (2)

1542, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of partisan was in 1542

Dictionary Entries Near partisan

Cite this Entry

“Partisan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a person who is strongly devoted to a particular cause or group
partisan adjective

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