(redirected from conscript)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to conscript: compulsorily


conscription, compulsory enrollment of personnel for service in the armed forces. Obligatory service in the armed forces has existed since ancient times in many cultures, including the samurai in Japan, warriors in the Aztec Empire, citizen militiamen in ancient Greece and Rome, and aristocrats and their peasants or yeomen during the Middle Ages in Europe. In England, compulsory military service was employed on the local level in the Anglo-Saxon fyrd as early as the 9th cent. In the 16th cent. Machiavelli argued that every able-bodied man in a nation was a potential soldier and could by means of conscription be required to serve in the armed forces. Conscription in the modern sense of the term dates from 1793, when the Convention of the French Republic raised an army of 300,000 men from the provinces. A few years later, conscription enabled Napoleon I to build his tremendous fighting forces. Following Napoleon's example, Muhammad Ali of Egypt raised a powerful army in the 1830s. Compulsory peacetime recruitment was introduced (1811–12) by Prussia. Mass armies, raised at little cost by conscription, completely changed the scale of battle by the time of the Napoleonic Wars. The institution of conscription, which was increasingly justified by statesmen on grounds of national defense and economic stimulation, spread to other European nations and Japan in the 19th cent. At the outbreak of World War I, Great Britain adopted conscription and used it again in World War II; it was abolished in 1962. Though little used in the United States prior to the Civil War, conscription was used by both sides in that war and in most large-scale U.S. wars since, often with great controversy. Most of the important military powers of the 20th cent. have used conscription to raise their armed forces. China, because of its large population, has a policy of selective conscription. Impressment is the forcible mustering of recruits. It lacks the scope and bureaucratic form of conscription. Many countries throughout the world, such as Israel, have mandatory military service; a few allow for alternate civilian service or release for conscientious objectors. See also selective service.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a method of troop recruitment based on universal military service. This system was in force in France in the late 18th century and the 19th.

During the French Revolution the Convention decreed in August 1793 the compulsory mass levy into the army of all Frenchmen between the ages of 18 and 40, the first places to be filled by bachelors and childless men between the ages of 18 and 25. In 1798 a universal six-year military obligation became the law in France under the name of conscription. Originally military service was considered an inescapable personal responsibility, and no one could take anyone else’s place. But by 1800 provisions were made to make the system less strict so that replacements could serve for the conscripts and exemptions could be bought. Military service thus became obligatory but not personal. Conscription was in effect in France until 1872 and in Russia (only for residents of Poland) from 1815 to 1874. In the second half of the 19th century conscription was replaced by universal military service.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The same size by increasing intake so you have the same number of conscripts? A move towards professionalism?
The service of all the conscripts joining the ranks of the defense forces in July will last 11 months.
The widely reported incident has raised awareness of the deadly practice of "dedovshchina" - ritual hazing by older conscripts - in Tajikistan's armed forces, and prompted others to come forward with stories and disturbing videos.
In response to ArmInfo's question about the inquiries into the recent deaths of conscripts and servicemen, the minister said that
Most conscripts were accommodated in barracks with little heating, primitive toilets and poor washing facilities but a few lucky ones had newly built brick barracks with central heating.
As qualified but fearful youth avoid service en masse, either through draft dodging or corruption, the military is left with unmotivated, unhealthy, uneducated, and an increasingly criminalized conscript force.
If you were considered to be fit and healthy, you were conscripted into the armed forces.
Royal Navy (National Service), take great exception to the remarks made by Mr Symes branding all conscripts as lacking in moral fibre and being prospective jailbirds.
During the war, around 1.5m women were employed in engineering and munitions sites across the UK - the majority of them conscripted.
A conscript officer complained to his superior that "it will take a large force to right this parish.
During the conscript service, the new environment regulated daily routine, deprivation from the family, increased emotional and physical tension--all have its impact.
Because so many soldiers in the all-volunteer military are married with families (compared to conscript armies), and because soldiers must periodically be induced or persuaded to voluntarily reenlist, the Pentagon must rotate its forces in and out of theater every 12 months or so in order to maintain morale and reenlistment.