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conscientious objection

refusal on moral or religious grounds to bear arms in a military conflict or to serve in the armed forces.
Origin of conscientious objection
Related forms
conscientious objector, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for conscientious objector
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "One variety of conscientious objector was not enough for Mr. Baker," declared Representative ——.

    The Behavior of Crowds Everett Dean Martin
  • When the World War came he declared himself a conscientious objector.

    Blue Ridge Country Jean Thomas
  • Of course every shirker, every coward and slacker in the country decided at once to be a conscientious objector.

    War and the Future H. G. Wells
  • The girls always surmised that he must be a conscientious objector.

    A Patriotic Schoolgirl Angela Brazil
  • It disfranchises, for the time, the conscientious objector who will do no national service.

    Women and War Work Helen Fraser
  • "It hasn't turned me into a conscientious objector, if you mean that," he said.

    Up and Down Edward Frederic Benson
  • So the conscientious objector, in the English sense, may be and is one of the peculiar by-products of England.

    What I Saw in America G. K. Chesterton
British Dictionary definitions for conscientious objector

conscientious objector

a person who refuses to serve in the armed forces on the grounds of conscience
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 conscientious objector

1896, in reference to those with religious scruples about mandatory vaccination. Military sense predominated from World War I.

After a chequered career full of startling episodes and reversals, the Vaccination Bill becomes virtually the Vaccination Act. In Parliament the hottest of the contest centred round the conscientious objector. [The Lancet, Aug. 13, 1898]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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conscientious objector in Culture
conscientious objector (CO)

A person who refuses to render military service on the grounds of moral principle or religious belief. A CO must demonstrate a sincere, active, and long-standing objection in order to receive an exemption from armed service. The United States and some European governments officially recognize CO status; approved COs are usually required to perform social service or noncombat military service in place of armed duty. (See also draft, draft dodger, and Selective Service System.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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