vigilante

play
noun vig·i·lan·te \ˌvi-jə-ˈlan-tē\

Definition of vigilante

  1. :  a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate); broadly :  a self-appointed doer of justice

vigilantism

play \ˌvi-jə-ˈlan-ˌti-zəm\ noun

Examples of vigilante in a sentence

  1. the danger of these self-appointed vigilantes is that they sometimes go after innocent people

The Meaning and Origin of vigilante

Vigilante entered English in the 19th century, borrowed from the Spanish word of the same spelling which meant “watchman, guard” in that language. The Spanish word can be traced back to the Latin vigilare, meaning “to keep awake.” The earliest use of the word in English was to refer to a member of a vigilance committee, a committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily, as when the processes of law appear inadequate. The word may often be found in an attributive role, as in the phrases “vigilante justice,” or “vigilante group.” In this slightly broadened sense it carries the suggestion of the enforcement of laws without regard to due process or the general rule of law.

Origin and Etymology of vigilante

Spanish, watchman, guard, from vigilante vigilant, from Latin vigilant-, vigilans


First Known Use: 1856


VIGILANTE Defined for English Language Learners

vigilante

play
noun vig·i·lan·te \ˌvi-jə-ˈlan-tē\

Definition of vigilante for English Language Learners

  • : a person who is not a police officer but who tries to catch and punish criminals


VIGILANTE Defined for Kids

vigilante

play
noun vig·i·lan·te \ˌvi-jə-ˈlan-tē\

Definition of vigilante for Students

  1. :  a member of a group of volunteers who are not police but who decide on their own to stop crime and punish criminals



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