I want to find a single word that encapsulates the meaning:

"having no knowledge of fighting and/or weapons"

Initially I had considered using "civilian." (as in the martial - civilian continuum). I have since reconsidered because there are plenty of civilians who are well-versed in fighting / weapons (at least here in 'merica).

  • connotation is neutral (neither negative nor positive)
  • looking for something academic-sounding
  • adjective

Bonus: If no such word exists, what is a way I might coin a suitable word?

Example: Some terrorists single-out "soft" targets, because they are ________.

  • Your example sentence makes little sense (for the word you are looking for). Soft targets are those that are relatively unprotected and vulnerable. A forward operating SAS troop, or an sniper element operating in enemy territory would qualify as a soft target (as they have little protection and are vulnerable), but one could not say they have no knowledge of fighting and or weapons.
    – user252684
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 23:48
  • ELU looks at established usage; the request for a newly invented 'word' is off-topic, Arash. And though 'word' is not rigorously/uniquely defined, inventions that have negligible currency haven't made the lexicon. Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 18:13

2 Answers 2


Knowing to fight and wanting to fight is linked in language, thus peaceful/bellicose etc. - the word you are looking for does not exist as such.

  • "defenseless" may come close, but someone who knows her way around weapons may still be defenseless without them.
  • "hapless" is negatively charged and encompasses more than martial incompetence

You might want to coin a single word for "having knowledge (practical knowledge?) of fighting and/or weapons" (doesn't exist either) and then say that someone isn't that.


unarmed TFD

a. Lacking weapons or armor; defenseless.

As in:

Some terrorists single-out "soft" targets, because they are unarmed.

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