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[mi-lish-uh] /mɪˈlɪʃ ə/
a body of citizens enrolled for military service, and called out periodically for drill but serving full time only in emergencies.
a body of citizen soldiers as distinguished from professional soldiers.
all able-bodied males considered by law eligible for military service.
a body of citizens organized in a paramilitary group and typically regarding themselves as defenders of individual rights against the presumed interference of the federal government.
1580-90; < Latin mīlitia soldiery, equivalent to mīlit- (stem of mīles) soldier + -ia -ia Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for militias
  • As state militias were mustered into service they naturally brought along their bands.
  • Rebel militias in the area have been accused of slaughtering and eating the critically endangered apes.
  • Their militias stopped cars at every other intersection to demand money or weapons.
  • He helped form militias and private-security companies, and sometimes used them for his own ends.
  • Indeed, armies and militias were met with smartphones and laptops.
  • Among the national government's new powers was the authority to organize, arm, and discipline the state militias.
  • Key for the council is to integrate the many militias into a new army and police.
  • The east is in rebel hands or at the mercy of local militias.
  • With opportunistic savvy, she serves beer and companionship to both government soldiers and rebel militias.
  • Southern children used to join either the rebels or government-backed militias.
British Dictionary definitions for militias


a body of citizen (as opposed to professional) soldiers
an organization containing men enlisted for service in emergency only
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: soldiery, from mīles soldier
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 militias



1580s, "system of military discipline," from Latin militia "military service, warfare," from miles "soldier" (see military). Sense of "citizen army" (as distinct from professional soldiers) is first recorded 1690s, perhaps from a sense in French cognate milice. In U.S. history, "the whole body of men declared by law amenable to military service, without enlistment, whether armed and drilled or not" (1777).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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