The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







A rebellion is, in the most general sense, a refusal to accept authority. It may thus be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors from a mild flouting of social norms to a violent organized attempt to destroy established authority. It is often used to refer to armed resistance to an established government. Those who participate in rebellions are "rebels".

Rebellion, as a rejection of social conformity is considered normal as children become adults and seek to emphasize their own uniqueness and independence. This is indicated in the phrase "teenage rebellion" as exemplified in the 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause. Non-violent rebellion by adults is often characterized by those subscribing to the social consensus to be disrespectful, thoughtless, or inconsiderate.

Throughout history many different groups that used violent methods were called rebels. In the U. S, the term was used for the Continentals by the British in the Revolutionary War and the Confederacy by the Union in the Civil War. It also includes members of paramilitary forces who take up arms against an established government. For example, the Boxer rebellion was an uprising against Western commercial and political influence in China during the final years of the 19th century, and the Jacobite Risings which attempted to restore the deposed Stuart kings to the thrones of England and Scotland were called the Jacobite Rebellions by the government.

A violent rebellion is sometimes referred to as an insurgency. There are a number of terms that fall under the umbrella of "rebel", though they range from those with positive connotations to those that are considered pejorative. Examples, in rough order from complimentary to perjorative, are:

  • "Resistance" carried out by freedom fighters, often to an occupying invader
  • "Revolution" by revolutionaries, often meant to indicate a desired change in type in government
  • "Uprising"
  • "Insurrection" by insurrectionists
  • "Insurgency" by insurgents
  • "Revolt"
  • "Mutiny" by mutineers, normally of military or security forces to commanders
  • "Subversion" by subversives
  • "Terrorism" by terrorists, refers specifically to the method of avoiding pitched battle

The difference between rebel and terrorist is often subjective. While the term rebel can sometimes have positive connotations as an agent of change, "terrorist" implies destructive action and is always used pejoratively, often by an establishment opposed to rebellious activities.


Famous rebellions / uprisings in history

Famous rebels

See also

Fictional rebellions

Last updated: 02-06-2005 06:35:51
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55