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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce vigilante (audio)

Dictionary definition of vigilante

Someone who takes the law into their own hands and acts outside of the established legal system to seek justice.
"The vigilante disguised himself in a mask and cape to protect his identity."

Detailed meaning of vigilante

This term is often used to describe individuals or groups who engage in activities such as apprehending suspected criminals, enforcing their own version of the law, or punishing those who they believe have committed crimes. Vigilantes may believe that the legal system is not effective in dealing with certain issues or that it is corrupt or biased in some way. However, their actions are generally considered illegal and can be dangerous, both to themselves and others. The use of force by vigilantes can lead to serious harm or even death, and their actions can undermine the rule of law and cause social unrest. While some may view vigilantes as heroes who take action where the legal system fails, their actions are generally not condoned or supported by society or law enforcement agencies.

Example sentences containing vigilante

1. The town was terrorized by a masked vigilante seeking to enforce his own brand of justice.
2. Vigilantes often arise in areas where law enforcement is ineffective or corrupt.
3. The vigilante patrolled the neighborhood, deterring criminal activity.
4. Some view vigilantes as heroes, while others see them as reckless and dangerous.
5. The vigilante's actions blurred the line between justice and vigilantism.
6. Vigilantes often form citizen groups to combat crime when the police are overwhelmed.

History and etymology of vigilante

The noun 'vigilante' has an intriguing etymology that reflects its role as someone who takes the law into their own hands. It stems from the Spanish word 'vigilante,' which is derived from 'vigilar,' meaning 'to watch' or 'to keep vigil.' In its historical context, especially in Spanish-speaking regions of the Americas, 'vigilante' referred to a group of self-appointed individuals who would vigilantly uphold law and order in their communities, often in the absence of formal law enforcement. The term evolved to describe individuals who acted outside of the established legal system to seek justice and maintain order. This etymology highlights the concept of vigilance and watchfulness in enforcing what one perceives as justice, even if it means bypassing traditional legal channels.

Quiz: Find the meaning of vigilante

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Further usage examples of vigilante

1. The city was divided over whether the vigilante was a savior or a menace.
2. Vigilantes sometimes carry out extrajudicial acts in the name of justice.
3. The masked vigilante was known for confronting drug dealers in the area.
4. Vigilantes often arise in response to a perceived lack of accountability in law enforcement.
5. The vigilante movement gained momentum as crime rates soared.
6. The mayor denounced the vigilante's actions as undermining the legal system.
7. Vigilantes may use force to apprehend suspects, raising ethical questions.
8. The vigilante's identity remained a closely guarded secret.
9. Vigilantes claim to fill the void left by an overwhelmed police force.
10. The vigilante's actions were a subject of heated debate in the community.
11. Some vigilantes are motivated by a sense of duty and civic responsibility.
12. The vigilante was hailed as a hero by those who believed in his cause.
13. Vigilantes often target organized crime syndicates in their efforts.
14. The vigilante movement gained popularity in response to rising gang violence.
15. Vigilantes can pose a challenge to authorities trying to maintain law and order.
16. The vigilante's methods were deemed too extreme by some.
17. Vigilantes may conduct citizen's arrests when they believe the law is failing.
18. The vigilante's actions were seen as a symptom of systemic issues in the justice system.
19. Vigilantes walk a fine line between justice seekers and lawbreakers.



outlaw, lawman, officer, guardian


Conflict and Confrontation, Chasms and Carnage, Criminal Justice and Penalties, Crime and Lawlessness

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