Definition of fedayeen in English:


(also fidayeen)

plural noun

  • Arab guerrillas operating especially against Israel.

    ‘unexpected attacks by the fedayeen’
    • ‘Since 1967, it has been the usual practice for the fedayeen [Middle Eastern paramilitaries] to wear explosive belts during operations.’
    • ‘Wouldn't it be nice if we had so much armor and cavalry on the ground that we could brush off these fedayeen who are harassing our supply lines?’
    • ‘It routed the army and adapted well to the unexpected attacks by the fedayeen.’
    • ‘The delegitimization of resisting combatants is continued in accompanying descriptions of the activities of the fedayeen and other militias.’
    • ‘He had a firefight with the fedayeen and some of them got killed.’
    • ‘After the defeat of the dictator, she was reluctant to return as the fedayeen were still operating in the town.’
    • ‘‘The fidayeen were all Arabs, who vowed to fight to the last man,’ an Arab source was quoted as saying.’


1950s: from colloquial Arabic fidā'iyīn, plural of classical Arabic fidā'ī ‘one who gives his life for another or for a cause’, from fadā ‘to ransom someone’. The singular fedai (from Arabic and Persian fidā'ī) had previously been used (late 19th century) to denote an Ismaili Muslim assassin.