Definition of fedayeen in US English:


plural noun

  • Arab guerrillas operating especially in Israel and Palestine against the Israeli government, and in Iraq against the occupying coalition forces during and after the Second Gulf War.

    ‘unexpected attacks by the fedayeen’
    • ‘‘The fidayeen were all Arabs, who vowed to fight to the last man,’ an Arab source was quoted as saying.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He had a firefight with the fedayeen and some of them got killed.’
    • ‘The delegitimization of resisting combatants is continued in accompanying descriptions of the activities of the fedayeen and other militias.’
    • ‘After the defeat of the dictator, she was reluctant to return as the fedayeen were still operating in the town.’


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.