[ vij-uh-lan-tee ]
/ ˌvɪdʒ əˈlæn ti /


a member of a vigilance committee.
any person who takes the law into his or her own hands, as by avenging a crime.


done violently and summarily, without recourse to lawful procedures: vigilante justice.

Origin of vigilante

1825–35, Americanism; < Spanish: vigilant

Related forms

vig·i·lan·te·ism, vig·i·lan·tism [vij-uh-lan-tiz-uh m, vij-uh-luh n-tiz-uh m] /ˌvɪdʒ əˈlæn tɪz əm, ˈvɪdʒ ə lənˌtɪz əm/, noun

Can be confused

vigilant vigilante Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for vigilante

British Dictionary definitions for vigilante


/ (ˌvɪdʒɪˈlæntɪ) /


one of an organized group of citizens who take upon themselves the protection of their district, properties, etc
Also called: vigilance man US a member of a vigilance committee

Word Origin for vigilante

C19: from Spanish, from Latin vigilāre to keep watch
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