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commandeer (verb) take control of; seize (for the use of the public or of armed forces).

When armed forces or the police take control of privately owned buildings, vehicles, etc., especially for military purposes, or for public use, they commandeer the buildings, vehicles, etc.. During a war, or in an emergency like the internal disturbances in a country, or following a severe disaster, like an earth quake or an epidemic, the government commandeers for public or military use, any item of privately owned property. That is, the government takes control of any property or possessions of the people, for use in such circumstances. Commandeering is very common in wartime, and during relief operations following a disaster.

  • With the bodies of the dead in the accident lying around, the police commandeered a delivery van coming their way, and ordered the driver to take the bodies to the nearest hospital.
  • India, being a vast country, has its polling centers in far-flung and remote areas, and to carry election material and election officials to these places, the Indian election authority commandeers a number of private vehicles. It also commandeers a number of privately owned buildings for use as polling centers.
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Last Modified : 11-May 2009
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