Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One who takes or advocates the taking of law enforcement into one's own hands.
  • n. A member of a vigilance committee.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A person who considers it their own responsibility to uphold the law in their neighbourhood.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A member of a vigilance committee.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. member of a vigilance committee

Etymologies

Spanish, watchman, vigilante, from Latin vigilāns, vigilant-, present participle of vigilāre, to be watchful, from vigil, watchful; see weg- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Spanish vigilante ("watchman", "guard"), from Latin vigilans (Wiktionary)

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