Vigilant vs vigilante

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Vigilant and vigilante are two words that are very close in spelling and pronunciation, but have different meanings. We will examine the definitions of vigilant and vigilante, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Vigilant describes being alert and watchful, keeping a lookout for danger or difficulties, being wary of trouble. The word vigilant is an adjective, the adverb form is vigilantly and the noun form is vigilance. The word vigilant is derived from the Latin word vigilantem, which means careful or watchful.

A vigilante is someone who takes the law into his own hands, someone who dispenses justice without the authority of being an officer of the law, prosecutor or judge. While it is true that there are certain, rare circumstances where ordinary citizens may be justified in dispensing their own brand of justice without authorization by legal authorities, for the most part a vigilante is operating illegally and probably immorally. The word vigilante has a severe negative connotation. The word vigilante is also derived from the Latin word vigilantem. Note that the letter e is pronounced, as in vij-ill-an-tee.


Hong Kong students need liberal studies so they can be vigilant in a post-truth world (The South China Morning Post)

ustice Jasti Chelameswar, the number two judge of the Supreme Court, warned on Friday that societies that are not vigilant risk losing their constitutionally guaranteed liberties. (The Hindu)

A court was told Christopher Bradford, 36, was attacked by members of vigilante group N-Force Justice, who travelled 200 miles from Leeds to Swindon in Wiltshire to confront him. (The Telegraph)

The creation of ‘The Hawks’ comes on the back of calls by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), to both NPP and NDC and other political parties to dissolve all vigilante groups within their respective parties. (Business Ghana)