Definition: Military

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English militari, from Old French militaire, from Latin mīlitāris, from mīles (“soldier”).


military (not generally comparable, comparative more military, superlative most military)

  1. Characteristic of members of the armed forces.
    She was dishonorably discharged from all military duties.
  2. (Canada, US) Relating to armed forces such as the army, marines, navy, and air force (often as distinguished from civilians or police forces).
    If you join a military force, you may end up killing people.
  3. Relating to war.
  4. Relating to armies or ground forces.

Usage notes

In modern usage, the adjective military is usually hypernymous to the adjective naval, but in properly understanding older texts—for example, when dealing with military history, the sociology of armed forces (including interservice rivalries), and so on—it is useful to know that the adjectives military and naval have often been used as coordinate terms, especially in the past, with military corresponding to an army (land forces) as distinguished from a navy (naval/maritime forces). By corollary, mentions of military science have sometimes been intended as coordinate with, rather than hypernymous to, mentions of naval science, although that coordinate sense is dated.


military (plural military or militaries)

  1. Armed forces.
    He spent six years in the military.
  2. Flag of United States United States U.S. armed forces in general, including the Marine Corps.
    It's not the job of the military to make policy.

Derived terms

Related terms


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