[kuh-man-doh, -mahn-]

noun, plural com·man·dos, com·man·does.

(in World War II)
  1. any of the specially trained Allied military units used for surprise, hit-and-run raids against Axis forces.
  2. a member of any of these units.Compare ranger(def 3).
any military unit organized for operations similar to those of the commandos of World War II.
a member of a military assault unit or team trained to operate quickly and aggressively in especially urgent, threatening situations, as against terrorists holding hostages.

Origin of commando

1785–95; < Afrikaans kommando raid, raiding party, a unit of militia < Portuguese commando unit commanded, noun derivative of commandar to command Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for commando

Contemporary Examples of commando

Historical Examples of commando

  • Yesterday you were on commando with Lotter; your brother was shot and taken by us.

    On the Heels of De Wet

    The Intelligence Officer

  • But for these infirmities these men would have been on commando with their brother burghers.

  • We have halted at Rietfontein which is a mile or so from Commando Nek.

  • To-day we have returned to Commando Nek, at least within a mile or so of it.

  • His commando consisted of 400 mounted men and about 100 dismounted.

British Dictionary definitions for commando


noun plural -dos or -does

  1. an amphibious military unit trained for raiding
  2. a member of such a unit
the basic unit of the Royal Marine Corps
(originally) an armed force raised by Boers during the Boer War
(modifier) denoting or relating to a commando or force of commandosa commando raid; a commando unit


go commando informal to wear no underpants

Word Origin for commando

C19: from Afrikaans kommando, from Dutch commando command, from French commander to command
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 commando

Afrikaans, "a troop under a commander," from Portuguese, literally "party commanded" (see command (v.)); in use c.1809 during the Peninsula campaign, then from 1834, in a South African sense, of military expeditions of the Boers against the natives; modern sense is from 1940 (originally shock troops to repel the threatened German invasion of England), first attested in writings of Winston Churchill, who could have picked it up during the Boer War. Phrase going commando "not wearing underwear" attested by 1996, U.S. slang, perhaps on notion of being ready for instant action.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper