[ in-suh-rek-shuhn ]
/ ˌɪn səˈrɛk ʃən /
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See synonyms for: insurrection / insurrectionist on Thesaurus.com

an act or instance of rising in revolt, rebellion, or resistance against civil authority or an established government.
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Origin of insurrection

1425–75; late Middle English <Late Latin insurrēctiōn- (stem of insurrēctiō), equivalent to insurrēct(us) (past participle of insurgere;see insurgent) + -iōn--ion

OTHER WORDS FROM insurrection

in·sur·rec·tion·al, adjectivein·sur·rec·tion·al·ly, adverbin·sur·rec·tion·ism, nounin·sur·rec·tion·ist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


Why is insurrection trending?

On January 6, 2021, lookups for the word insurrection skyrocketed 22,358% on Dictionary.com after a mob of supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building on the day Congress was set to certify the electoral vote count to confirm Joe Biden’s presidential election victory. Some journalists, political analysts, and politicians used the word insurrection to refer to the events that occurred in the nation’s capital.


Insurrection vs. sedition vs. coup

Those discussing the events also used other strong words, including sedition, coup (and coup d’état), and (domestic) terrorism. Sedition is incitement or promotion of rebellion against the government, while an insurrection is an active rebellion or uprising against the government. Those who engage in insurrection can be called insurrectionists. In the context of government overthrow, the word coup is short for coup d’état, which narrowly refers to an illegal or forceful change of government, as opposed to an uprising in general. A coup may be attempted with the intention of removing a single political leader, rather than instituting an entirely new form of government, for example. Despite the differences in their meanings, terms like sedition, insurrection, and coup are sometimes used in the discussion of the same events. For example, sedition may inspire an insurrection that results in a coup.

More broadly, terrorism involves the use of violence or threats of violence—especially against civilians—to achieve some political aim. Domestic terrorism specifically refers to acts of terrorism against one’s fellow citizens. By contrast, the word insurrection typically refers to acts that target the government, rather than civilians. However, some acts of insurrection may also be considered acts of terrorism.

Some discussing the events of January 6 described them as having the atmosphere of a banana republic, which refers to an authoritarian country known for exploiting its citizens for the benefit of wealthy elites and foreign corporations. (Use of the term is often criticized due to disparaging associations with Central American countries.)

How to use insurrection in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for insurrection

/ (ˌɪnsəˈrɛkʃən) /

the act or an instance of rebelling against a government in power or the civil authorities; insurgency

Derived forms of insurrection

insurrectional, adjectiveinsurrectionary, noun, adjectiveinsurrectionism, nouninsurrectionist, noun, adjective

Word Origin for insurrection

C15: from Late Latin insurrectiō, from insurgere to rise up
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