• synonyms


[pahr-tuh-zuh n, -suh n; British pahr-tuh-zan]
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  1. an adherent or supporter of a person, group, party, or cause, especially a person who shows a biased, emotional allegiance.
  2. Military. a member of a party of light or irregular troops engaged in harassing an enemy, especially a member of a guerrilla band engaged in fighting or sabotage against an occupying army.
  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of partisans; partial to a specific party, person, etc.: partisan politics.
  2. of, relating to, or carried on by military partisans or guerrillas.
Also partizan.

Origin of partisan1

1545–55; < Middle French, from Upper Italian parteźan (Tuscan partigiano), equivalent to part(e) “faction, part” + -eźan (from unattested Vulgar Latin *-ēs- -ese + Latin -iānus -ian)
Related formspar·ti·san·ship, par·ti·san·ry, noun


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3. biased, prejudiced.

Synonym study

1. See follower.


1. opponent.


[pahr-tuh-zuh n, -suh n]
  1. a shafted weapon of the 16th and 17th centuries, having as a head a long spear blade with a pair of curved lobes at the base.
Also partizan.
Compare halberd.

Origin of partisan2

1550–60; < Middle French partizane < Upper Italian parteźana, probably by ellipsis from *arma parteźana weapon borne by members of a faction; see partisan1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for partisan

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • In a partisan warfare this position was the best that could have been taken.

  • Your young blood feels only the partisan promptings of dislike.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • She was the partisan on Tom's side, the adherent on her father's.

  • For at this moment I am sensible that I have not the temper of a philosopher; like the vulgar, I am only a partisan.



  • The two parties in Patusan were not sure which one this partisan most desired to plunder.

    Lord Jim

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for partisan



  1. an adherent or devotee of a cause, party, etc
    1. a member of an armed resistance group within occupied territory, esp in Italy or the Balkans in World War II
    2. (as modifier)partisan forces
  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a partisan
  2. relating to or excessively devoted to one party, faction, etc; one-sidedpartisan control
Derived Formspartisanship or partizanship, noun

Word Origin

C16: via French, from Old Italian partigiano, from parte faction, from Latin pars part



  1. a spear or pike with two opposing axe blades or spikes

Word Origin

C16: from French partizane, from Old Italian partigiana, from partigiano partisan 1
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

Word Origin and History for partisan


also partizan, 1550s, "one who takes part with another, zealous supporter," from Middle French partisan (15c.), from dialectal upper Italian partezan (Tuscan partigiano) "member of a faction, partner," from parte "part, party," from Latin partem (nominative pars), see part (n.). Sense of "guerilla fighter" is first recorded 1690s.


1708 for warfare, 1842 for politics, from partisan (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper