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[fee-nee-uh n, feen-yuh n] /ˈfi ni ən, ˈfin yən/
a member of an Irish revolutionary organization founded in New York in 1858, which worked for the establishment of an independent Irish republic.
(in late Irish legends) a member of a group of warriors always ready to defend Ireland against its enemies.
Origin of Fenian
1810-20; < Irish féinne (genitive of fiann band of Fenians) + -ian; influenced by Old Irish féne ancient inhabitant of Ireland
Related forms
Fenianism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Fenian
Historical Examples
  • Of course you have heard of the great Fenian raid, which really is to come off.

  • Yates got a pass, written by the Fenian general, so that we should not be troubled again.

  • I would rather not name the Fenian leaders I knew, and the reason is this.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
  • The Fenian conception was high-souled, and had some romance about it.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
  • Possibly at the moment, the vulgar Fenian seemed the finer fellow.

    Lord Kilgobbin Charles Lever
  • He was intimately acquainted with the details of the Fenian movement.

    The Red Hand of Ulster George A. Birmingham
  • He was in the Fenian r-raid, an' his father carrid a pike in forty-eight.

    Mr. Dooley in Peace and in War

    Finley Peter Dunne
  • A few months back the Fenian trouble could have been settled in one week.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • Since the Fenian scheme went to pieces, the rats have left their holes.

    The Art of Disappearing John Talbot Smith
  • The Fenian raid on New Brunswick proved to be a complete fiasco.

    Wilmot and Tilley James Hannay
British Dictionary definitions for Fenian


(formerly) a member of an Irish revolutionary organization founded in the US in the 19th century to fight for an independent Ireland
(Irish myth) one of the Fianna
(derogatory, offensive) an Irish Catholic or a person of Irish Catholic descent
of or relating to the Fenians
Derived Forms
Fenianism, noun
Word Origin
C19: from Irish Gaelic fēinne, plural of fian band of warriors
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 Fenian

1816, blend of Old Irish feinne, plural of fiann, name of a band of Irish warriors + Old Irish Fene, name of the ancient inhabitants of Ireland. Reference to Irish-American brotherhood of that name first attested 1864.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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