Definition of militia in US English:



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

    • ‘The Senate Judiciary Committee agreed that marshals could summon both the militia and regular troops to serve in a posse comitatus.’
    • ‘By the 1808 Treaty of Paris the Prussian army was restricted to a mere 42,000 men and forbidden to raise a militia.’
    • ‘During the Revolutionary War, state governments assumed the colonies' authority to raise their short-term militias through drafts if necessary.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Assembly members railed against the government for its apparent powerlessness to stem the bloodshed and there were calls for popular militias to step in.’
    • ‘The older men were discharged from service in the militia as not fully reliable.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These elites raised militias that freed U.S. forces from town security duties and joined garrison soldiers to hunt guerrillas in the boondocks.’
    • ‘In England the French rather than the German threat gave rise to the Volunteer Force, which supplemented the regular army and militia.’
    • ‘Military forces - and this included the various state militias - were raised to defend the country against England, France, and Spain.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The due process clause permits military justice but restricts its application to the armed forces or to the militia during times of war.’
    • ‘During the Revolutionary War, the civilian militias were, again contrary to myth, ineffective on the whole as a fighting force.’
    • ‘Under the Constitution of 1787, military training was divided, as were the nation's military institutions, between the state militias and the regular army.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He plans to double the number of the security forces, and create a million-man militia.’
    • ‘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.’
    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.
      • ‘The size of the military forces of the opposing militias has been subject to exaggeration.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘How are women faring in these countries as the superpower, the militias, the terrorists, and the U.N. flail?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There are another 6,200 UN peacekeepers on the way, who will supervise disarming of the rebels and pro-government militias.’
      • ‘Disarmament of local militias is also progressing well.’
      • ‘He comes from Liberia where he was forced to become a child soldier and fight in a rebel militia.’
      • ‘Replacing militias, guerilla groups and other armed bands, the new Afghan army is developing according to plan.’
      • ‘Most of the children escaped, although it is reported that some of the older ones were forcibly recruited into the rebel militia.’
      • ‘Surviving civil wars and brutal militias in several African countries, they arrive in Algeria and then must walk across the desert to Morocco.’
      • ‘After weeks of dreadful anticipation, a rebel militia advances against government forces.’
      • ‘About 15 000 children were drafted to fight in the pro-government militias and rebel groups, the UN has estimated.’
      • ‘Opposition forces may have had militias during the civil war but it is not civil war they want today.’
      • ‘A legitimate government will encourage the regional forces to dissolve their militias in the interest of creating a national army.’
      • ‘Both sides include sectarian parties that were organised militias during the civil war, and have supported neoliberal polices.’
      • ‘If the rebel American militias were beaten on the battlefield, their ringleaders could expect to be hanged as traitors.’
      • ‘It is this dynamic that the intelligent field commander of a local militia or opposition group exploits.’
      • ‘Other militias would emerge that no one has ever heard of today.’
      • ‘Using brutal tactics Duvalier created a rural militia to intimidate the population.’
      • ‘No one works alone anymore - they've created gangs and armed militias.’
      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’.