Definition of guerrilla in US English:


(also guerilla)


  • 1A member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces.

    ‘this small town fell to the guerrillas’
    as modifier ‘guerrilla warfare’
    • ‘When you're fighting guerrillas, or terrorists, the enemy is quite literally hydra-headed.’
    • ‘It's not like Russia where you can retreat and retreat - you hole up and fight a guerilla war, or you run out of country.’
    • ‘In the rush to war, the Western Coalition was not prepared for the guerilla warfare they're now faced with.’
    • ‘Russian forces have been fighting the separatist guerrillas on and off since 1994.’
    • ‘The regiment has long experience in Yemen, where it fought against guerrillas in the 1960s.’
    • ‘Many innocent civilians have been caught in the middle of a war between the country's military and the guerillas.’
    • ‘Rebel guerrillas would be tracked, then intercepted before reaching their targets.’
    • ‘State news agency MIA said the guerrillas were opening fire from a Tetovo suburb.’
    • ‘They were transformed into a both a modern guerilla force, and a terror outfit.’
    • ‘This program forced civilians to take sides and served to increasingly isolate guerillas from popular support.’
    • ‘It was system of indirect control, with the US constantly fighting low level guerilla warfare with special forces.’
    • ‘By taking care of routine policing and security, they will free the US army to conduct raids and fight the guerrillas.’
    • ‘The US is concerned that the weapons are intended for domestic militias or foreign guerillas.’
    • ‘The accepted ratio of government forces to guerrillas is often cited as 10:1.’
    • ‘He promised a massive military response to the guerillas with a budget of a billion dollars and a million men enlisted as volunteers.’
    • ‘During the eighteenth century, the Sikhs had to fight a guerilla war against huge forces.’
    • ‘The military power employed went beyond American troops engaged in fighting guerillas.’
    • ‘It was the first major strategic attack carried out by a guerilla force and the attackers came from within as well as without our society.’
    • ‘In practice this has been an inefficient way of aiding the country's fight against left-wing guerrillas.’
    • ‘The US military estimated about 100 guerrillas had been killed in the assault.’
    freedom fighter, underground fighter, irregular soldier, irregular, resistance fighter, member of the resistance, partisan
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1as modifier Referring to actions or activities performed in an impromptu way, often without authorization.
      ‘guerrilla theater’
      • ‘Here's one for luck, a deadly nicotine tea used for the mass destruction of aphids by guerrilla gardeners.’
      • ‘We're guerrilla publishers: you see a gap and fill it to as high a standard as possible.’
      • ‘All this guerrilla artwork reflected the widespread belief that it was the IRA that had pulled off the heist.’
      • ‘The guerrilla gigs and the reduced-price gigs are an extension of this philosophy, and an attempt to form a community.’
      • ‘Several small actions took place - street theatre, guerrilla gardening, sitdowns.’
      • ‘These days, a friendship with Pete Doherty and a habit of guerrilla gigging virtually guarantee success.’


Early 19th century (introduced during the Peninsular War): from Spanish, diminutive of guerra ‘war’.