Guerrilla
   The word commonly used to refer to an irregular fighter, the term guerrilla is widely acknowledged to have entered usage in the English language during the Peninsular War, when la guerrilla referred to the struggle of irregulars practicing harassment and sabotage of the Napoleonic army in Spain. Insofar as one in every four French casualties suffered in Spain is thought to have been inflicted by them, guerrilleros - the more appropriate Spanish term for the fighters themselves - were obviously effective fighting allies for Wellington but were also a source of valuable intelligence.
   Romanticized as the champions of a “people’s war” against Bonapartist tyranny, they were also famed for extraordinary cruelty to the French soldiers they captured and were blamed by the victims of the harsh French reprisals they provoked. Carl von Clausewitz dealt with the conditions facilitating guerrilla tactics, and C. E. Callwell devoted a chapter to guerrilla war in his classic Small Wars, first published in 1896, citing among others the followers of Abd-al-Qa¯dir, the Khalsa, and the Boers as especially effective practitioners.
   See also <>; <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Callwell, C. E. Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice. London: HMSO, 1906;
    Esdaile, Charles. The Peninsular War. London: Allen Lane, 2002.
   CARL CAVANAGH HODGE

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Guerrilla — Guer*ril la, n. [Sp., lit., a little war, skirmish, dim. of guerra war, fr. OHG. werra discord, strife. See {War}.] 1. An irregular mode of carrying on war, by the constant attacks of independent bands, adopted in the north of Spain during the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Guerrilla — Guer*ril la, a. Pertaining to, or engaged in, warfare carried on irregularly and by independent bands; as, a guerrilla party; guerrilla warfare. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • guerrilla — (n.) fighter in an irregular, independent armed force, 1809, from Sp. guerrilla body of skirmishers, skirmishing warfare, lit. little war, dim. of guerra war, from a Germanic source (Cf. O.H.G. werra strife, conflict, war; see WAR (Cf. war)).… …   Etymology dictionary

  • guerrilla — sustantivo femenino 1. Grupo armado que se sirve del conocimiento del terreno para atacar por sorpresa al enemigo: El ejército regular no consigue acabar con la guerrilla. 2. (no contable) Forma de guerra llevada a cabo por estos grupos. 3.… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • guerrilla — (Del dim. de guerra). 1. f. escaramuza (ǁ pelea de poca importancia). 2. Partida de tropa ligera, que hace las descubiertas y rompe las primeras escaramuzas. 3. Partida de paisanos, por lo común no muy numerosa, que al mando de un jefe particular …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • guerrilla — is the recommended spelling in English for the word meaning ‘a member of an independent fighting force’, not the common variant guerilla. It is pronounced gǝ ril ǝ, like gorilla (the animal) …   Modern English usage

  • guerrilla — [n] bushfighter commando, freedom fighter, irregular, mercenary, professional soldier, resistance fighter, soldier of fortune, terrorist, underground fighter; concept 358 …   New thesaurus

  • guerrilla — (also guerilla) ► NOUN ▪ a member of a small independent group fighting against the government or regular forces. ORIGIN Spanish, little war …   English terms dictionary

  • guerrilla — [gə ril′ə] n. [Sp, dim. of guerra, war < Fr guerre or It guerra, both < Frank * werra: see WAR1] 1. Archaic warfare carried on by guerrillas 2. any member of a small defensive force of irregular soldiers, usually volunteers, making surprise …   English World dictionary

  • guerrilla — guerrillaism, n. /geuh ril euh/, n. 1. a member of a band of irregular soldiers that uses guerrilla warfare, harassing the enemy by surprise raids, sabotaging communication and supply lines, etc. adj. 2. pertaining to such fighters or their… …   Universalium

  • Guerrilla — ► sustantivo femenino 1 Grupo de combatientes no organizados en ejército, que lucha contra el enemigo con tácticas y ataques por sorpresa: ■ los campesinos del lugar apoyaban la guerrilla. SINÓNIMO bando facción 2 MILITAR Grupo de soldados poco… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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