Definition of militia in US English:



  • 1A military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.

    ‘creating a militia was no answer to the army's manpower problem’
    mass noun ‘small detachments of militia’
    • ‘The Senate Judiciary Committee agreed that marshals could summon both the militia and regular troops to serve in a posse comitatus.’
    • ‘During this period, all states and territories required men who wanted to avoid military service in the militias to pay fees or to hire substitutes.’
    • ‘By the 1808 Treaty of Paris the Prussian army was restricted to a mere 42,000 men and forbidden to raise a militia.’
    • ‘Assembly members railed against the government for its apparent powerlessness to stem the bloodshed and there were calls for popular militias to step in.’
    • ‘In fact, Esdaile asserts that, among the Spanish, the bulk of hard fighting was carried on not by popular forces like urban militias or guerrillas, but a much-maligned and suspected regular army.’
    • ‘The militia was a part-time force charged with a wide range of duties and organized at the village level, but supervised from higher echelons.’
    • ‘Until the national army becomes operationally effective, parts of the regional militias will have to be maintained as local security forces under strict control of the central government.’
    • ‘He plans to double the number of the security forces, and create a million-man militia.’
    • ‘The due process clause permits military justice but restricts its application to the armed forces or to the militia during times of war.’
    • ‘These elites raised militias that freed U.S. forces from town security duties and joined garrison soldiers to hunt guerrillas in the boondocks.’
    • ‘The army is already building up civilian militias close to the gas field.’
    • ‘The president, who had to be a natural-born citizen of the United States, was to be commander-in-chief of the military and the state militias when brought into federal service.’
    • ‘The older men were discharged from service in the militia as not fully reliable.’
    • ‘During the Revolutionary War, the civilian militias were, again contrary to myth, ineffective on the whole as a fighting force.’
    • ‘During the Revolutionary War, state governments assumed the colonies' authority to raise their short-term militias through drafts if necessary.’
    • ‘Under the Constitution of 1787, military training was divided, as were the nation's military institutions, between the state militias and the regular army.’
    • ‘In England the French rather than the German threat gave rise to the Volunteer Force, which supplemented the regular army and militia.’
    • ‘These mindful bureaucrats limited payments to state militias that had been directly mustered into federal service or those that had been called out with authorization.’
    • ‘Military forces - and this included the various state militias - were raised to defend the country against England, France, and Spain.’
    armed forces, army, forces, services, soldiery
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    1. 1.1 A military force that engages in rebel or terrorist activities in opposition to a regular army.
      • ‘He comes from Liberia where he was forced to become a child soldier and fight in a rebel militia.’
      • ‘There are another 6,200 UN peacekeepers on the way, who will supervise disarming of the rebels and pro-government militias.’
      • ‘No one works alone anymore - they've created gangs and armed militias.’
      • ‘Other militias would emerge that no one has ever heard of today.’
      • ‘It is this dynamic that the intelligent field commander of a local militia or opposition group exploits.’
      • ‘After weeks of dreadful anticipation, a rebel militia advances against government forces.’
      • ‘Since such a war is more destructive to the civilian population than to the combatants, the militias have little incentive to opt for a peace that does not favor their corporate agenda.’
      • ‘Opposition forces may have had militias during the civil war but it is not civil war they want today.’
      • ‘Both sides include sectarian parties that were organised militias during the civil war, and have supported neoliberal polices.’
      • ‘A legitimate government will encourage the regional forces to dissolve their militias in the interest of creating a national army.’
      • ‘Most of the children escaped, although it is reported that some of the older ones were forcibly recruited into the rebel militia.’
      • ‘If the rebel American militias were beaten on the battlefield, their ringleaders could expect to be hanged as traitors.’
      • ‘The size of the military forces of the opposing militias has been subject to exaggeration.’
      • ‘In the past, the problem of the opposition militias was taken care of by creating a well paid and trained armed force to deal with armed opposition.’
      • ‘About 15 000 children were drafted to fight in the pro-government militias and rebel groups, the UN has estimated.’
      • ‘Replacing militias, guerilla groups and other armed bands, the new Afghan army is developing according to plan.’
      • ‘Using brutal tactics Duvalier created a rural militia to intimidate the population.’
      • ‘How are women faring in these countries as the superpower, the militias, the terrorists, and the U.N. flail?’
      • ‘Disarmament of local militias is also progressing well.’
      • ‘Surviving civil wars and brutal militias in several African countries, they arrive in Algeria and then must walk across the desert to Morocco.’
      armed force, force, military detachment, military unit, unit, platoon, brigade, regiment, squadron, battalion, company, legion, corps
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    2. 1.2 All able-bodied civilians eligible by law for military service.


Late 16th century: from Latin, literally ‘military service’, from miles, milit- ‘soldier’.