[noun, adjective reb-uhl; verb ri-bel]
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  1. a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of his or her country.
  2. a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.
  1. rebellious; defiant.
  2. of or relating to rebels.
verb (used without object), re·bel, re·belled, re·bel·ling.
  1. to reject, resist, or rise in arms against one's government or ruler.
  2. to resist or rise against some authority, control, or tradition.
  3. to show or feel utter repugnance: His very soul rebelled at spanking the child.

Origin of rebel

1250–1300; (adj.) Middle English < Old French rebelle < Latin rebellis renewing a war, equivalent to re- re- + bell(um) war + -is adj. suffix; (v.) Middle English rebellen (< Old French rebeller) < Latin rebellāre; (noun) Middle English rebel, derivative of the adj.
Related formsreb·el·like, adjectivenon·reb·el, noun, adjectivepro·reb·el, adjectivesem·i·reb·el, noun

Synonyms for rebel

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Examples from the Web for rebel

Contemporary Examples of rebel

Historical Examples of rebel

  • Now, Renmark, you are more of a rebel at the present moment than O'Neill.

  • These committees of the rebel scoundrels have been active for months, all about us.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • I must tell you, Madam, said he, that you give the rebel courage.

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • The senior partner was regarding the rebel with grave-eyed reproach.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • This time they did not dare to rebel, for they felt she was in the right; they were unreasonable.

British Dictionary definitions for rebel


verb (rɪˈbɛl) -bels, -belling or -belled (intr often foll by against)
  1. to resist or rise up against a government or other authority, esp by force of arms
  2. to dissent from an accepted moral code or convention of behaviour, dress, etc
  3. to show repugnance (towards)
noun (ˈrɛbəl)
    1. a person who rebels
    2. (as modifier)a rebel soldier; a rebel leader
  1. a person who dissents from some accepted moral code or convention of behaviour, dress, etc
Derived Formsrebeldom, noun

Word Origin for rebel

C13: from Old French rebelle, from Latin rebellis insurgent, from re- + bellum war
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 rebel

c.1300, from Old French rebelle "stubborn, obstinate, rebellious" (12c.) and directly from Latin rebellis "insurgent, rebellious," from rebellare "to rebel, revolt," from re- "opposite, against," or perhaps "again" (see re-) + bellare "wage war," from bellum "war."


mid-14c., from Old French rebeller (14c.), from Latin rebellare "to revolt" (see rebel (adj.)). Related: Rebelled; rebelling.


"person who makes war on his country for political motives," mid-14c., from rebel (adj.). Meaning "supporter of the American cause in the War of Independence" is from 1775; sense of "supporter of the Southern cause in the American Civil War" is attested from April 15, 1861. Rebel yell in an American Civil War context attested from 1862, but the thing itself is older and was said to have been picked up by southwestern men in their periodic wars against the Indians.

The Southern troops, when charging or to express their delight, always yell in a manner peculiar to themselves. The Yankee cheer is more like ours; but the Confederate officers declare that the rebel yell has a particular merit, and always produces a salutary and useful effect upon their adversaries. A corps is sometimes spoken of as a 'good yelling regiment.' [A.J.L. Fremantle, "The Battle of Gettysburg and the Campaign in Pennsylvania," in "Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine," Sept. 1863]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper