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[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 vigilante
  • If you become militant or try to be a vigilante you are only going to cause problems.
  • They held vigilante patrols to enforce public morals.
  • If so, you're saying that you would condon vigilante geoengineering.
  • Mo, as an example of vigilante action by a community angry at a town bully.
  • He's a vigilante with some amazing weapons and tools at his disposal.
  • He also aided a vigilante effort that publicly named several suspects.
  • Anonymous had a vigilante streak, and it could be downright mean.
  • All of us, that is, except the sanctimonious vigilante feigning moral outrage over this.
  • In comic books, conquering fear is a good basis for a successful vigilante lifestyle.
  • It is not handled by some self-appointed vigilante who take it upon himself to avenge any affront to another.
British Dictionary definitions for vigilante


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 vigilante

"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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