A group that's described as being paramilitary resembles an organized army. During the American Revolutionary War, the minutemen were a paramilitary group that fought in the earliest battles.

When civilians organize themselves (or are organized) into a group that appears to be military, or that assists actual military troops, that's a paramilitary organization. You can also call it, simply, a paramilitary. The early twentieth century word combines the prefix para-, "near" or "resembling," and military, from its Latin root militaris, "of soldiers or war."

Definitions of paramilitary
  1. adjective
    of or relating to a group of civilians organized to function like or to assist a military unit
  2. noun
    a group of civilians organized in a military fashion (especially to operate in place of or to assist regular army troops)
    synonyms: paramilitary force, paramilitary organisation, paramilitary organization, paramilitary unit
    see moresee less
    (plural) Arab guerrillas who operate mainly against Israel
    Fedayeen Saddam, Saddam's Martyrs
    a feared paramilitary unit formed in 1995 by young soldiers to serve Saddam Hussein against domestic opponents
    type of:
    force, personnel
    group of people willing to obey orders
Word Family

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