AskDefine | Define military

Dictionary Definition

military adj
1 of or relating to the study of the principles of warfare; "military law"
2 characteristic of or associated with soldiers or the military; "military uniforms" [ant: unmilitary]
3 associated with or performed by armed services as contrasted with civilians; "military police" [ant: civilian] n : the military forces of a nation; "their military is the largest in the region"; "the military machine is the same one we faced in 1991 but now it is weaker" [syn: armed forces, armed services, military machine, war machine]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈmɪlɪtəri/


  1. Having to do with armed forces such as the army, Marine Corps, navy and air force. (US English meaning only)
  2. Having to do with armies specifically, although recent usage has led to some blurring of the meaning with the US English specific meaning (non US English meanings)
    There are military options, but we would like to try diplomacy first.



  1. Armed forces.
  2. U.S. armed forces in general, including the Marine Corps.
    It's not the job of the military to make policy.


armed forces
  • Chinese: 军事 (jūn shì)
  • Finnish: armeija, sotaväki
  • French: armée, troupes
  • German: Militär (de), n.; Armee (de), f.; Heer
  • Japanese: 軍事 (ぐんじ, gunji)
  • Latin: militia
  • Slovene: vojska
  • Spanish: ejército

Extensive Definition

Military as a noun, in the broad meaning of the word, refers to any number of individuals who are members of an organisation authorised by its society to use force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its independence by repulsing actual or perceived threats. As an adjective the term military is used to specifically associate any concept or aspect that is used in reference to the military as an organisation. In this sense militaries often function as societies within societies, by having their own military communities, military economies, military education, military medicine and other aspects of a functioning civilian society.
The profession of soldiering as part of a military group is older than recorded history itself. Some of the most enduring images of the classical antiquity portray the power and feats of its military leaders. The Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC was one of the defining points of Pharaoh Ramesses II's reign and is celebrated in bas-relief on his monuments. A thousand years later the first emperor of unified China, Qin Shi Huang, was so determined to impress the gods with his military might that he was buried with an army of terracotta soldiers. The Romans were dedicated to military matters, leaving to posterity many treatises and writings as well as a large number of lavishly carved triumphal arches and columns].
In the [[modern era, world wars and countless other major conflicts have changed the employment of the militaries beyond recognition to their ancient participants. Empires have come and gone; states have grown and declined. Enormous social changes have been wrought, and military power continues to dominate international relations. The role of the military today is as central to global societies as it ever was.

Etymology and some definitions

The first recorded use of military in English, spelled militarie, was in 1585. It comes from the Latin militaris (from Latin miles meaning "soldier"&mdash) but is of uncertain etymology, one suggestion being derived from *mil-it- - going in a body or mass The word is now identified as denoting someone that is skilled in use of weapons, or engaged in military service or in warfare.
As a noun the military usually refers generally to a country's armed forces or sometimes, more specifically, to the senior officers who command them. The line between strategy and tactics is not easily blurred, although deciding which is being discussed had sometimes been a matter of personal judgement by some commentators, and military historians. The management of forces at the level of organisation between strategic and tactical is called operational warfare.
Military strategy is the management of forces in wars and military campaigns by a commander-in-chief employing large military forces either national and allied as a whole, or the component elements of armies, navies and air forces such as army groups, fleets and large numbers of aircraft. Military strategy is a long-term projection of belligerents' policy with a broad view of outcome implications, including outside the concerns of military command. Military strategy is more concerned with the supply of war and planning, then management of field forces and combat between them. The scope of Strategic military planning can span weeks, but commonly months and years.
Operational warfare is, within warfare and military doctrine, the level of command which coordinates the minute details of tactics with the overarching goals of strategy. A common synonym is operational art.
The operational level is at a scale bigger than one where line of sight and the time of day are important, and smaller than the strategic level, where production and politics are considerations. Formations are of the operational level if they are able to conduct operations on their own, and are of sufficient size to be directly handled or have a significant impact at the strategic level. This concept was pioneered by the German army prior to and during the Second World War. At this level planning and duration of activities takes from one week to a month, and are executed by Field Armies and Army Corps and their naval and air equivalents.
Military tactics concerns itself with the methods for engaging and defeating an enemy in direct combat. Military tactics are usually used by units over hours or days, and are focused on the specific, close proximity tasks and objectives of squads, companys, battalions, regiments, brigades and divisions and their naval and air equivalents.
One of the oldest military publications is The Art of War by the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu. Written in the 6th century BC, the 13-chapter book has had a huge influence on Eastern and Western military planning, business tactics and beyond.
Both the Classical Greeks and the Romans wrote prolifically on military campaigning. Among the best-known works are Julius Caesar's commentaries on the Gallic Wars and the Roman Civil war—written about 50 BC. Two major works on tactics come from the late Roman period: Taktike Theoria by Aelianus Tacticus and De Re Militari ("On military matters") by Vegetius. Taktike Theoria examined Greek battle methods and was most influential in the Byzantine world and during the Golden Age of Islam. De Re Militari formed the basis of European military tactics until the late 17th century. Perhaps its most enduring maxim is "let he who desires peace prepare for war."
In his seminal book On War the Prussian general and leading expert on modern military strategy Carl von Clausewitz defined military strategy as "the employment of battles to gain the end of war." According to Clausewitz "strategy forms the plan of the War, and to this end it links together the series of acts which are to lead to the final decision, that is to say, it makes the plans for the separate campaigns and regulates the combats to be fought in each." Hence, he placed political aims above military goals, ensuring civilian control of the military. Military strategy was one of a triumvirate of "arts" or "sciences" that governed the conduct of warfare: the others being military tactics, the execution of plans and manœuvering of forces in battle; and military logistics, the maintenance of an army.
Military tactics can take the form of ambushes, encirclements, bomb and bombardment attacks, frontal assaults, air assaults, hit-and-run (used mainly by guerilla forces) and, in some cases, suicide attacks. Often, deception, in the form of military camouflage or misdirection using decoys, is used to confuse the enemy. A major military tactic that came to prominence in the 19th and early 20th century is trench warfare. This was mainly employed in World War I in the Gallipoli campaign and the Western Front. Trench warfare often turned to a stalemate, because in order to attack an enemy entrenchment soldiers had to run through an exposed "no man's land" under heavy fire from an entrenched enemy.


Military logistics is the management and planning of the supply chain.
Military transport is part of logistics. It could pertain to equipment trans-shipped via a sister service, an individual detached for a technical school operated by a sister service, or the travel orders and authorization of such an individual to proceed via a sister services vehicles, as well as the loan of vehicles (staff cars, AFVs, military trucks) operating from the primary base command.
Engineering services are also part of logistics. The maintenance of weapons in the field, the recovery of defective and derelict machinery, the repair and modification of such equipment and the life-extension programs undertaken to allow continued use of equipment subject to deterioration are all part of the provision of supplies and materials for warfare.
Munition services are part of logistics. These deal with the safe storage and transport of weapons and explosives to the theatre, the provision of fuses, detonators and warheads at the point where operational troops will assemble the charge, projectile, bomb or shell. They may also be required to disarm and demolish weapons that are unreliable or that have been returned from the field unexpended and return them to storage temporarily.

Technology and equipment

When Stone Age man first took a sliver of flint to tip his spear, he was applying technology to improve his weaponry. Since then, the advance of mankind and the advance in weaponry has been irretrievably linked. Stone weapons gave way to bronze, and then bronze to iron. With each technological change has come an advantage: sharper weapons, harder weapons, more durable weapons.
The Greeks and Romans brought technology to the front with the invention and development of siege engines. Then came the age of chivalry, with knights—mounted on destriers and encased in ever-more sophisticated armour—dominating the field. In the meantime, in China, gunpowder had been invented and was increasingly being used in military applications. It was the arrival of cannon in Europe and advanced versions of the long bow and cross bow—which all had armour-piercing capability—that put an end to the dominance of the armoured knight. After the long bow (which required great skill and strength to use), came the musket, which could be used effectively by anyone after short training. In time the successors to muskets and cannon, in the form of rifles and artillery, would become core battlefield technology.
As the speed of technological advance accelerated in the civilian world so warfare became more industralised. The newly-invented machine gun and repeating rifle brought new fire-power to the battlefield and, in part, explains the high casualty rates of the American Civil War. The next breakthrough was the highly-mobile, recoilless, field-gun—the French Soixante-Quinze—in the late 1800s. During World War I the need to break the deadlock of the trenches saw the rapid development of many new technologies, particularly in military aviation and tanks.
World War II, perhaps, marked the most frantic period of weapons development in the history of humanity. Massive numbers of new designs and concepts were fielded and all existing technologies were improved between 1939 and 1945. It was during this time that the atomic bomb was created.
After World War II, with the onset of the Cold War, the constant technological development of new weapons was institutionalized as participants engaged in a constant race to develop weapons and counter-weapons. This constant state of weapons development continues into the modern era and remains a constant draw on the resources of many nations.
Ultimately, the MIRV ICBM and the Tsar Bomb are considered the most destructive weapons invented.

Military history

Military history is often considered to be the history of all conflicts, not just the history of proper militaries. It differs somewhat from the history of war with military history focusing on the people and institutions of war-making while the history of war focuses on the evolution of war itself in the face of changing technology, governments, and geography.
Military history has a number of purposes. One main purpose is to learn from past accomplishments and mistakes so as to more effectively wage war in the future. Another is to create a sense of tradition which is used to create cohesive military forces. Still another may be to learn to prevent wars more effectively.

Military and society

The relationship between the military and the society it serves is a complicated and ever-evolving one. Much depends on the nature of the society itself and whether it sees the military as important (as for example in time of threat or war) or a burdensome expense (as typified by defence cuts in time of peace).

Ideology and ethics

Militarist ideology is the doctrinal view of a society as being best served (or more efficient) when it is governed or guided by concepts embodied in the culture, doctrine, system, or people of the military.
Under the justification of potential application of force, militarism asserts that a civilian population is dependent upon — and thereby subservient to —the needs and goals of its military. Militarism is sometimes contrasted with the concepts of comprehensive national power and soft power and hard power.
Most nations have a separate code of law which regulates certain activities allowed only in war, and provides a code of law applicable only to a soldier in war (or 'in uniform' during peacetime). An early exponent was Hugo Grotius, whose Rights of War and Peace'' (1625) had a major impact of the humanitarian development of warfare. His theme was echoed by Gustavus Adolphus, the Swedish king-general (1594–1632).
Modern-day ethical constraints are much more developed. For instance, the Geneva Conventions concern themselves with the treatment of civilians and prisoners of war. International protocols restrict or ban the use of certain weapons, notably nuclear and biological warfare. International conventions define what constitutes a war crime and provides for prosecution of war crimes. Individual countries also have elaborate codes of military practice, an example being the United States' Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Military actions are sometimes justified by furthering a humanitarian cause. The term military humanism is used to refer to such actions.


Antimilitarism is a doctrine opposed to war between states in particular and, of course, militarism. Following Hegel's exploration of the relationship between history and violence, antimilistarists argue that there are different types of violence, some of which can be said to be legitimate others non-legitimate. Anarcho-syndicalist Georges Sorel advocated the use of violence as a form of direct action, calling it "revolutionary violence", which he opposed in Reflections on Violence (1908) to the violence inherent in class struggle. Sorel thus followed the International Workers' Association (IWA, aka the First International) theorization of propaganda of the deed.
War, as violence, can be distinguished into inter-states' war and civil war, in which case class struggle is, according to antimilitarists theorists, a primordial component. Hence, Marx's influence on antimilitarist doctrine will come upon as no surprise, even though it would be doubtful to make Marx accountable for the whole antimilitarist tradition. However, it would also be unwise to believe in the myth of an eternal antimilitarist spirit, present in all places and time, since modern military institution is a historic achievement, related to the formation, in the 18th and 19th centuries, of nation-states. Napoleon's invention of conscription is a fundamental progress in the organization of state armies. Later, Prussian militarism would be exposed by 19th century social theorists.

Depictions of the military

Soldiers and armies have been at the heart of popular culture since the beginnings of recorded history. In addition to the countless images of military leaders in heroic poses from antiquity, they have been an enduring source of inspiration in literature. Not all of this has been entirely complementary and the military have been lampooned or ridiculed as often as they have been idolised. The classical Greek writer, Aristophanes, devoted an entire comedy, the Lysistrata, to a strike organised by military wives where they withhold sex from their husbands to keep them from going to war.
In Medieval Europe, tales of knighthood and chivalry - the officer class of the period - captured the popular imagination. Writers and poets like Taliesin, Chrétien de Troyes and Thomas Mallory wrote tales of derring-do featuring Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Galahad. (Even today, books and films about the Arthurian legend and the Holy Grail continuing to appear.} A century or so later, in the hands of writers such as Jean Froissart, Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare, the fictional knight Tirant lo Blanch and the real-life condottieri John Hawkwood would be juxtaposed against the fantastist Don Quixote and the carousing Sir John Falstaff. In just one play, Henry V, Shakespeare provides a whole range of military characters, from cool-headed and clear-sighted generals, to captains, and common soldiery.
The rapid growth of movable type in the late 16th and early 17th centuries saw an upsurge in private publication. Political pamphlets became popular, often lampooning military leaders for political purposes. A pamphlet directed against Prince Rupert of the Rhine is a typical example. During the 19th century, irreverence was at its height and for every elegant military gentleman painted by the master-portraitists of the European courts (for example, Gainsborough, Goya and Reynolds), there are the sometimes affectionate and sometimes savage caricatures of Rowland and Hogarth.
This continues in the following century, with publications like Punch in the British Empire and Le Père Duchesne in France, poking fun at the military establishment. This extended to media other print too. An enduring example is the Major-General's Song from the Gilbert and Sullivan light opera, Pirates of Penzance, where a senior army officer is satirised for his enormous fund of irrelevant knowledge.
The increasing importance of cinema in the early 20th century provided a new platform for depictions of military subjects. During the First World War, although heavily censored, newsreels enabled those at home to see for themselves a heavily-sanitized version of life in the front line. About the same time, both pro-war and anti-war films came to the silver screen. One of the first films on military aviation, Hell's Angels broke all box office records on its release in 1929. Soon, war films of all types were showing throughout the world.
The First World War was also responsible for a new kind of military depiction, through poetry. Hitherto, poetry had been used mostly to glorify or sanctify war. The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, with its galloping hoofbeat rhythm, is a prime late Victorian example of this, though Rudyard Kipling had written a scathing reply, The Last of the Light Brigade, criticising the poverty in which many Light Brigade veterans found themselves in old age. Instead, the new wave of poetry, from the war poets, was written from the point of view of the disenchanted trench soldier. Leading war poets include: Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, John McCrae, Rupert Brooke, Isaac Rosenberg and David Jones. A similar movement occurred in literature, producing a slew of novels on both sides of the Atlantic including notably All Quiet on the Western Front and Johnny Got His Gun. A much-later satirical take on World War I is provided by the film, Oh! What a Lovely War.
The propaganda war that accompanied World War II invariably depicted the enemy in unflattering terms. Both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany excelled in producing heroic images, placing their soldiers in a semi-mythical context. Examples of this exist not only in posters but also in the films of Leni Riefenstahl and Sergei Eisenstein. Alongside this, World War II also inspired films as varied as Bridge on the River Kwai, The Longest Day, Catch-22, Saving Private Ryan, and The Sea Shall Not Have Them. The next major event, the Korean War inspired a long-running television series M*A*S*H. With the Vietnam War, the tide of balance turned and its films - notably Apocalypse Now, Good Morning Vietnam, Go Tell the Spartans and Born on the Fourth of July - have tended contain critical messages.
There's even a nursery rhyme about war, the Grand Old Duke of York, ridiculing a general for his inability to command any further than marching his men up and down a hill. The huge number of songs focusing on war include And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda and Universal Soldier.


Militaria are another way of depicting the military. Militaria are antique artifacts or replicas of military history people, firearms, swords, badges, etc collected for their historical significance. Today, the collecting of militaria items such as toy soldiers, tin soldiers, military models is an established hobby among many groups of people.

Other uses of "Military"

  • Military procurement refers to common regulations and requirements for a ship or a detached unit to requisition and draw on a base's facilities (housing, pay, and rations for detached personnel), supplies (most commonly food stocks or materials, and vehicles) by the service running a primary base; e.g. Army units detached to or staging through an air base, a vessel calling at a port near an army or air base, an army unit drawing supplies from a naval base.
  • Military strength is a term that describes a quantification or reference to a nation's standing military forces or the capacity for fulfillment of that military's role. For example, the military strength of a given country could be interpreted as the number of individuals in its armed forces, the destructive potential of its arsenal, or both.
    • For example, while China and India maintain the largest armed forces in the world, the U.S. Military is considered to be the world's strongest, although the certainty of such a claim cannot be ascertained without a detailed analysis of opposing military forces in relation to one another as well as taking into account the field(s) of battle and tactics used in such a conflict.
  • Military force is a term that might refer to a particular unit, a regiment or gunboat deployed in a particular locale, or as an aggregate of such forces (Example: "In the Gulf War the United States Central Command controlled military forces (units) of each of the five military services of the United States.")
  • A military brat is a colloquial term for a child with at least one parent who served full-time in the armed forces. Children of armed forces members may move around to different military bases or international postings, which gives them an unusual childhood. Unlike common usage of the term brat, when it is used in this context, it is not necessarily a derogatory term.

See also

portalpar War

References and notes


  • Dupuy, T.N. (Col. ret.), Understanding war: History and Theory of combat, Leo Cooper, London, 1992
  • Tucker, T.G., Etymological dictionary of Latin, Ares publishers Inc., Chicago, 1985
military in Arabic: عسكرية
military in Bengali: মিলিটারি
military in Catalan: Militar
military in Czech: Vojenství
military in Danish: Militær
military in German: Militär
military in Spanish: Militar
military in Esperanto: Militisto
military in Basque: Gudari
military in Persian: ارتش
military in French: Militaire
military in Korean: 군사
military in Indonesian: Militer
military in Icelandic: Her
military in Italian: Militare
military in Hebrew: צבא
military in Latin: Res militaris
military in Dutch: Militair
military in Japanese: 軍事
military in Pushto: پوځ
military in Polish: Militaria
military in Portuguese: Militar
military in Russian: Вооружённые силы
military in Simple English: Military
military in Slovenian: Vojaštvo
military in Serbian: Војска
military in Swedish: Militär
military in Ukrainian: Збройні сили
military in Yiddish: מיליטער
military in Chinese: 軍事

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

aggressive, air force, antagonistic, armed force, armed forces, armed service, army, array, battling, bellicose, belligerent, bloodthirsty, bloody, bloody-minded, career soldiers, chauvinist, chauvinistic, combative, contentious, enemy, ferocious, fierce, fighting, fighting machine, forces, full of fight, ground forces, ground troops, hawkish, host, hostile, inimical, jingo, jingoish, jingoist, jingoistic, legions, martial, militant, militaristic, military establishment, naval, navy, occupation force, offensive, paratroops, pugnacious, quarrelsome, rank and file, ranks, regular army, regulars, saber-rattling, sanguinary, sanguineous, savage, scrappy, service, ski troops, soldierlike, soldierly, soldiery, standing army, storm troops, the line, the military, trigger-happy, troops, truculent, unfriendly, unpacific, unpeaceable, unpeaceful, warlike, warmongering, warring
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1