9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[vij-uh-lan-tee] /ˌvɪdʒ əˈlæn ti/
a member of a vigilance committee.
any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime.
done violently and summarily, without recourse to lawful procedures:
vigilante justice.
Origin of vigilante
1825-35, Americanism; < Spanish: vigilant
Related forms
vigilanteism, vigilantism
[vij-uh-lan-tiz-uh m, vij-uh-luh n-tiz-uh m] /ˌvɪdʒ əˈlæn tɪz əm, ˈvɪdʒ ə lənˌtɪz əm/ (Show IPA),
Can be confused
vigilant, vigilante. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for vigilantism
  • It strikes me as a type of misguided, self-righteous vigilantism.
  • vigilantism is never okay, and the ends do not justify the means.
  • But vigilantism is a risky business, particularly when it carries an odor of race baiting.
  • Penalties for vigilantism or other misuse of information obtained under this chapter.
  • Remember that this is a watch program, not vigilantism.
  • vigilantism was one method by which the anti-professional gambler sentiment manifested itself.
  • vigilantism and spontaneous mob killings in response to crime continued to be a problem.
  • Nonetheless, human rights organizations stated that uniformed vigilantism persisted on a nonlethal level.
  • vigilantism, involving spontaneous mob executions in response to crime, continued to be a problem.
  • Nonetheless, human rights organizations stated that uniformed vigilantism persisted on a less-than-deadly level.
British Dictionary definitions for vigilantism


(US) the methods, conduct, attitudes, etc, associated with vigilantes, esp militancy, bigotry, or suspiciousness


one of an organized group of citizens who take upon themselves the protection of their district, properties, etc
(US) Also called vigilance man. a member of a vigilance committee
Word Origin
C19: from Spanish, from Latin vigilāre to keep watch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vigilantism



"member of a vigilance committee," 1856, American English, from Spanish vigilante, literally "watchman," from Latin vigilantem (see vigilance). Vigilant man in same sense is attested from 1824 in a Missouri context. Vigilance committees kept informal rough order on the frontier or in other places where official authority was imperfect.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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