insurrection, insurgency, revolt


Senior Member
In WR Dictionary, insurrection is defined as insurgency.

Some Chinese person explained in Chinese about the difference between insurrection and insurgency. Here's my basical translation of that.

Insurrection implies limited scale and at the beginning stage.

Insurgency has longer time and heavier influence than insurrection.

Do you think so?

In short, what is the difference among revolt, insurrection, insurgency?

I GUESS revolt is for rightful cause, but insurrection/insurgency do not have to imply it. Right?

Many thanks!
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  • Scholiast

    Senior Member

    These terms are all to some extent interchangeable, and mostly the nuances are due to the point of view of the individual (or persons) reporting the issue, though some (like, for example the Peasants' Revolt in 1381) are in language sanctioned by long usage.

    "Insurgent"/"insurgency" is a relatively new word (at least in BrE), coined to describe terrorist or other disreputable people who challenge, violently, the prevailing or legitimate order of state.

    The term issues from (above all) the BBC, with its fixed and careful avoidance of partisanship - words such as "rebels" or "revolutionaries" would at once appear to declare an allegiance. It may be remembered that during the Northern Irish troubles, BBC reporters had consistently to refer to "killings" (not to "murders" or "assassinations") in order to seem impartial.

    "Insurgents" are therefore any group of people who use military equipment or armed means to rebel against any existing, politically ordered state.

    In an older sense, found only (I believe) in the British armed services, but of course I am very willing to be corrected: "insurrection" was a deliberate act of mutinous disobedience from a lower rank to a superior.

    There will doubtless be more on this thread.

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