[fee-nee-uh n, feen-yuh n]


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 formsFe·ni·an·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fenian

Historical Examples of fenian

  • 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

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 FormsFenianism, noun

Word Origin for Fenian

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

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