patriot

noun pa·tri·ot \ ˈpā-trē-ət , -ˌät , chiefly British ˈpa-trē-ət \
|Updated on: 12 Jul 2018

Definition of patriot

: one who loves and supports his or her country
  • … praised him as a … motivated patriot who was fearless in the quest to preserve American security.
  • —W. R. Hearst, Jr.

Examples of patriot in a Sentence

  1. He was a great patriot who devoted his life to serving his country.

  2. the contention that true patriots would be willing to do anything for their country

Recent Examples of patriot from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patriot.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

More on the Meaning of patriot

The word patriot signifies a person who loves his or her country and is ready to boldly support and defend it. That meaning has endured since the word's arrival in English in the 16th century, but it has not marched through the years unchallenged.

Ultimately derived from Greek patrios, meaning "of one’s father," patriot entered English via French patriote—meaning "fellow countryman" or "compatriot"—during a time of political unrest in western Europe that was characterized by infighting among fellow countrymen—especially among those of the Protestant and Catholic faiths.

For much of the 17th century, words like good were attached to patriot to distinguish patriots who shared both a love of country and a common allegiance from those having opposing beliefs and loyalties: to be deemed a "good patriot" was to be a lover of country who agreed on political and/or religious matters with whoever was doing the deeming.

The Catholiques were knowne good Patriots under our former Kings.
— Henry Hammond, A view of some exceptions which have been made by a Romanist to the Lord Viscount Falkland's discourse…, 1646

Patriot was used to mean "good patriot" without modification more frequently by the end of the 17th century, but it tended to apply to a supporter of the ruling monarchy.

A Patriot, both the King and Country serves; Prerogative, and Privilege preserves.
— John Dryden, Fables, Ancient and Modern, 1700

Another effect of the tumultuous times was the development of a derogatory use of patriot to refer to hypocritical patriots: people who claimed devotion to one's country and government but whose actions or beliefs belied such devotion. This ultimately led to the discrediting of the loyalty and steadfastness associated with the word patriot.

The years leading up to the American Revolutionary War further propagated the notion of patriot as a name for a seditious rebel against the monarchy. American writers of the 18th century, however, heartily embraced the word to define the colonists who took action against British control. As tensions continued to escalate, a new meaning of patriot came to the forefront, referring to a person who advocates or promotes the independence of their land or people from the country of which they are a colony. Benjamin Franklin provides an early record of this use.

It should be no Wonder … if among so many Thousand true Patriots as New England contains there should be found even Twelve Judases.
— Benjamin Franklin, letter, 7 July 1773

In the end, the patriots won the war and, centuries after America’s Declaration of Independence, patriot has held its place of honor in the English language as the meritorious name for the brave men and women of the armed forces who defend the rights and freedoms of their country. Stripped of all past disparagement, the word has returned to its original meaning: "one who loves his or her country."

Today, active fighting or resistance is not a requirement to being a patriot: a person only needs a strong sense of love for one’s country.

Origin and Etymology of patriot

Middle French patriote compatriot, from Late Latin patriota, from Greek patriōtēs, from patria lineage, from patr-, patēr father

PATRIOT Defined for English Language Learners

patriot

Definition of patriot for English Language Learners

  • : a person who loves and strongly supports or fights for his or her country


PATRIOT Defined for Kids

patriot

noun pa·tri·ot \ ˈpā-trē-ət \

Definition of patriot for Students

: a person who loves his or her country and strongly supports it

Word Root of patriot

The Latin word pater, meaning “father,” and the Greek word patēr give us the root pater or patr. Anyone or anything paternal, such as an aunt or uncle, is related to one's father. A patriarch is a father and ruler of a family or tribe. A patriot is a person who loves his or her fatherland or country. A patron is a person who gives support and approval for a project or artist, as fathers support and approve of their children.


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