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90s Slang You Should Know


or guerilla

[guh-ril-uh] /gəˈrɪl ə/
a member of a band of irregular soldiers that uses guerrilla warfare, harassing the enemy by surprise raids, sabotaging communication and supply lines, etc.
pertaining to such fighters or their technique of warfare:
guerrilla strongholds; guerrilla tactics.
Origin of guerrilla
1800-10; < Spanish, diminutive of guerra war (< Germanic; cf. war1); orig. in reference to the Spanish resistance against Napoleon; the name for the struggle erroneously taken as a personal noun
Related forms
guerrillaism, noun
antiguerrilla, noun, adjective
counterguerrilla, adjective
Can be confused
gorilla, guerrilla. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for guerrilla
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You took the part of Gendron, when you knew he was nothing but a guerrilla and a horse-thief.

    Young Captain Jack Horatio Alger and Arthur M. Winfield
  • The moon was behind us, for the guerrilla was on the western side of the mesa.

    The War Trail Mayne Reid
  • The war which followed resembled the guerrilla conflicts of Kansas, with the addition of the Indian element.

    The Last American Frontier Frederic L. (Frederic Logan) Paxson
  • It was not the guerrilla that was uttering that cry; it was the yell of the Indian warrior.

    The War Trail Mayne Reid
  • guerrilla war (always successful, as history shows) directly infringes that rule.

    War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
British Dictionary definitions for guerrilla


  1. a member of an irregular usually politically motivated armed force that combats stronger regular forces, such as the army or police
  2. (as modifier): guerrilla warfare
a form of vegetative spread in which the advance is from several individual rhizomes or stolons growing rapidly away from the centre, as in some clovers Compare phalanx
Derived Forms
guerrillaism, guerillaism, noun
Word Origin
C19: from Spanish, diminutive of guerrawar
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 guerrilla

"fighter in an irregular, independent armed force," 1809, from Spanish guerrilla "body of skirmishers, skirmishing warfare," literally "little war," diminutive of guerra "war," from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German werra "strife, conflict, war;" see war). Figurative use by 1861. As an adjective from 1811. Acquired by English during the Peninsular War (1808-1814); purists failed in their attempt to keep this word restricted to "irregular warfare" and prevent it taking on the sense properly belonging to guerrillero "guerrilla fighter."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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