Insurrection Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Do you know insurrection’s meaning? This article will explore the meaning of the word insurrection, including usage, example sentences, and more!

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What Does the Word Insurrection Mean?

in·sur·rec·tion | \ ˌin(t)-sə-ˈrek-shən

According to Merriam-Webster, an insurrection is an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or a constituted government. Many definitions you will find specify that the act is a violent one. 

Britannica tells us that an insurrection may facilitate a revolution, which is a radical change in the state’s government or political system. It may be provoked or initiated by the crime of inciting revolt or rebellion. 

You may have seen the word insurrection pop up due to events that took place at the U.S. Capitol building. While this is a fine example of the word, there have been many recorded insurrections dating back to c. 626 BC and the Revolt of Babylon, when general Nabopolassar led a war of independence. 

In the U.S., insurrection against the federal government’s authority is a crime under 18 U.S. Code §2383. The law states that insurrectionists face a fine, a ten-year jail sentence, or both and cannot hold office in the United States.

In addition, federal law also grants the president the authority to employ the United States armed forces and nationalized state militias to put down any acts of insurrection against a state government upon the request of the state’s governor or legislature (10 U.S. Code §251) and to suppress or prevent civil disturbances. 

In 2020, in response to the often violent demonstrations against police brutality and anti-Black racism that had spread throughout many U.S. cities, then-President Donald Trump threatened to use his authority under the Insurrection Act to unleash deadly force against protestors.

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Insurrection? 

There are many different words that you can use in lieu of the word “insurrection.” When a term has the same definition as insurrection, it is called its synonym. 

Here is a list of synonyms from Power Thesaurus:

  • Rebellion
  • Revolt
  • Uprising
  • Mutiny
  • Revolution
  • Rising
  • Riot
  • Insurgence
  • Sedition
  • Coup d’état
  • Anarchy
  • Subversion
  • Outbreak
  • Insurgency
  • Turmoil
  • Defiance
  • Mutiny
  • Disorder
  • Treason
  • Intifada
  • Unrest
  • Overthrow

When expanding your English language vocabulary, a great way to do so is with antonyms. Antonyms are terms that have the opposite meaning of the word. 

Power Thesaurus has provided a few antonyms for insurrection:

  • Obedience
  • Compliance
  • Law and Order
  • Loyalty
  • Harmony in Society
  • Lawfulness
  • Counterinsurgency
  • Counter-Revolution
  • Declension
  • Social Peace
  • Legal Framework

What Is the Origin of the Word Insurrection?

Etymonline tells us that insurrection has been used as early as the 15th century., deriving from Old French insurrection (or directly from the Late Latin insurrectionem) and past participle of insurgere, meaning “to rise up” or “to insurge.” 

It has the same root words as the term “insurgent,” which refers to someone who revolts against a government or civil authority, with the ultimate Latin root giving us “surge.”

What Are Examples of an Insurrection? 

Throughout the history of humankind, insurrection has been commonplace. While there are an abundant number of significant insurrections in the past, some that stand out include:

The March on Rome

Benito Mussolini obtained power in Italy in October 1922. The March on Rome lead to the beginning of fascist rule and meant the doom of the preceding parliamentary regimes of socialists and liberals.

The July Plot

Many senior-level German military officials attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler to take control of his government. German leaders wanted to seize control of the government and attempt to seek more favorable peace terms from The Allies. The July Plot sadly failed when a bomb planted in a briefcase went off but failed to kill the Nazi leader.

The United States Capitol Attack of 2021

A mob of supporters of the then-Republican President of the United States, Donald Trump, stormed the Capitol building on January 6th, 2021.

During the attack, there was a joint session of Congress being convened to certify the results of the U.S. presidential election of 2020, which Trump had lost to his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden. Trump alleged that Democrats would commit extensive voter fraud in the upcoming election by forging, altering, or eliminating absentee ballots. 

At the time, many voters wanted to avoid exposure at polling stations to the virus that caused COVID-19, and in turn, planned to use absentee ballots. While holding a large audience, Trump repeated his baseless charge and urged a large gathering of his supporters to march to the Capitol and resist Congress’s certification of Biden’s victory. 

In the ensuing events, Trump supporters attacked Capitol police broke into the Capitol building while vandalizing and looting the interior of the building. 


Overall, insurrection is a word that refers to the act or instance of a party revolting against civil authorities or an established government in an attempt for one faction to obtain control from another. Insurrections have been documented as far back as humanity has been keeping tabs on history. 

Whether it is an armed insurrection, an instance of open revolt, or open rebellion, these are all forms of the word insurrection.


  1. Insurrection Definition & Meaning | Merriam-Webster
  2. Definition, Laws, Insurrection Act, Examples, & Facts | Britannica 
  3. Insurrection antonyms – 34 Opposites of Insurrection | Power Thesaurus
  4. Insurrection synonyms – 422 Words and Phrases for Insurrection | Power Thesaurus
  5. Definition insurrection (n.) | Etymology