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vigilante

[vij-uh-lan-tee] /ˌvɪdʒ əˈlæn ti/
noun
1.
a member of a vigilance committee.
2.
any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime.
adjective
3.
done violently and summarily, without recourse to lawful procedures:
vigilante justice.
Origin of vigilante
1825-1835
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),
noun
Can be confused
vigilant, vigilante.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for vigilante
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His work, "vigilante Days and Ways," is an invaluable contemporary record.

  • There's nothing I'm so sick of hearing as this vigilante stuff.

    Laramie Holds the Range Frank H. Spearman
  • It was the vigilante, a good-looking white-bearded man clad in blue cotton.

    The Fortunate Isles Mary Stuart Boyd
  • "But I gave the vigilante his penny this morning," I said, hastening to the door.

    The Fortunate Isles Mary Stuart Boyd
  • That afternoon three men shouldered into Babbitt's office with the air of a vigilante committee in frontier days.

    Babbitt Sinclair Lewis
British Dictionary definitions for vigilante

vigilante

/ˌvɪdʒɪˈlæntɪ/
noun
1.
one of an organized group of citizens who take upon themselves the protection of their district, properties, etc
2.
(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 vigilante
n.

"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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13
17
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