enemy combatant

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enemy combatant (plural enemy combatants)

  1. Used other than figuratively or idiomatically: see enemy,‎ combatant.
  2. (US, military) Any person in an armed conflict who may be properly detained under the laws and customs of war.[1]

Usage notes[edit]

The term 'enemy combatant' has historically referred to any member of the armed forces of a state with which another state is at war. In the 'war on terrorism', however, combatants may come from multiple nations, wear no uniforms, and use unconventional weapons; because they are not defined by simple, readily apparent criteria such as citizenship or military uniforms, the power of a state to name people 'enemy combatants' is, according to some legal scholars, extraordinarily broad.


For quotations using this term, see Citations:enemy combatant.



See also[edit]


  1. ^ JP 1-02 Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms