Vigilante definition

vĭjə-lăntē
Frequency:
A person who is not a member of law enforcement but who pursues and punishes persons suspected of lawbreaking.
noun
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Any individual who acts outside of legal authority, often violently, to punish or avenge a crime, right a perceived wrong, etc.
noun
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The definition of a vigilante is a person who takes the law into his or her own hands.

An example of a vigilante is a person who makes it his mission to kill murderers.

noun
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(legal term) A word of Spanish origin meaning “watchman” or “guard.” The Latin root is vigil, which means to be awake or to be observant. Today, when an individual takes the law into his or her hands, he or she is said to be partaking in vigilante activities, or vigilantism. The phrase “taking the law into your own hands” describes what some refer to as a “secret police force.” Vigilantes appear in the real world and in the virtual world. North Carolina Wesleyan College. Vigilantism, Vigilante Justice, and Victim Self-help. [Online, July 17, 2004.] North Carolina Wesleyan College Website. http://faculty.ncwc .edu/toconnor/300/300lect10.htm.
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A person who considers it their own responsibility to uphold the law in their neighborhood and often does so summarily and without legal jurisdiction.
noun
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A member of a vigilance committee.
noun
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
vigilante
Plural:
vigilantes

Origin of vigilante

  • Spanish watchman, vigilante from Latin vigilāns vigilant- present participle of vigilāre to be watchful from vigil watchful weg- in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Spanish vigilante (“watchman", "guard"), from Latin vigilans

    From Wiktionary