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90s Slang You Should Know


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for vigilante
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His work, "vigilante Days and Ways," is an invaluable contemporary record.

  • There's nothing I'm so sick of hearing as this vigilante stuff.

    Laramie Holds the Range Frank H. Spearman
  • It was the vigilante, a good-looking white-bearded man clad in blue cotton.

    The Fortunate Isles Mary Stuart Boyd
  • "But I gave the vigilante his penny this morning," I said, hastening to the door.

    The Fortunate Isles Mary Stuart Boyd
  • That afternoon three men shouldered into Babbitt's office with the air of a vigilante committee in frontier days.

    Babbitt Sinclair Lewis
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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