an unauthorized committee of citizens organized for the maintenance of order and the summary punishment of crime in the absence of regular or efficient courts.
History/Historical. (in the South) an organization of citizens using extralegal means to control or intimidate Black people and abolitionists and, during the Civil War, to suppress Union loyalists.
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Origin of vigilance committee
An Americanism dating back to 1825–35
Words nearby vigilance committee
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
British Dictionary definitions for vigilance committee
(in the US) a self-appointed body of citizens organized to maintain order, punish crime, etc, where an efficient system of courts does not exist
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