One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Formerly: †military service or training. Subsequently (especially (now historical) in France): a militia or army. Now rare.
2French History. Usually in form Milice. A force employed by the Vichy government of 1940–4 to repress internal dissent.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in James Hayward (fl. 1630–1635). From French milice handling of arms, the military art (Cotgrave, 1611), troop of citizens raised to reinforce the regular army, the Milice of Vichy from classical Latin mīlitia.
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