• Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Fenian A member of a secret organization, consisting mainly of Irishmen, having for its aim the overthrow of English rule in Ireland.
    • a Fenian Pertaining to Fenians or to Fenianism.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n Fenian A modern English form of Irish Fiann, Fianna, a name applied in Irish tradition to the members of certain tribes who formed the militia of the ardrig or king (see ardrigh) of Eire or Erin (the Fianna Eirionn, or champions of Erin). The principal figure in the Fenian legends is Finn or Find or Fionn, who figures as Fingal in the Ossianic publications of McPherson, in which the name of Ossian stands for Oisin, son of Finn. The Fenians, with their hero Finn, while probably having a historical basis, became the center of a great mass of legends, which may be compared with the legends of King Arthur and the Round Table. In the Ossianic version the Fenians are warriors of super-human size, strength, speed, and prowess. Also Fian, Fion.
    • n Fenian A member of an association of Irishmen known as the Fenian Brotherhood, founded in New York in 1857, with a view to secure the independence of Ireland. The movement soon spread over the United States and Ireland (where it absorbed the previously existing Phœnix Society), and among the Irish population of Great Britain, and several attempts were made at insurrection in Ireland, and at invasion of Canada from the United States. The association was organized in district clubs called circles, presided over by centers, with a head center as chief president and a general senate: an organization afterward modified in some respects. Between 1863 and 1872 eleven “national congresses” were held by the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States, after which it continued in existence as a secret society.
    • Fenian Of or belonging to the Fenians of Irish legend: as, the Fenian stories; the Fenian period.
    • Fenian Of or belonging to the organization called the Fenian Brotherhood: as, a Fenian invasion; a Fenian outrage.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Fenian fē′ne-an a member of an association of Irishmen founded in New York in 1857 for the overthrow of the English government in Ireland
    • adj Fenian belonging to the legendary Fenians, or to the modern conspirators
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
From the Finians, or Fenii, the old militia of Ireland, who were so called from Fin, or Finn, Fionn, or Fingal, a popular hero of Irish traditional history


In literature:

What about the Fenians?
"The Shellback's Progress" by Walter Runciman
From Sergeant Colgan he got nothing except a guess that the General might have been one of the Fenians.
"General John Regan" by George A. Birmingham
Two of the leaders were typical of the old Fenians of darker days.
"Six days of the Irish Republic" by Louis Redmond-Howard
The Fenians, it was said, were raising a fleet to bombard Halifax.
"A Soldier's Life" by Edwin G. Rundle
The proof, it appears, ought to have conformed to the precedent set by certain trials of Fenians in England.
"The Life of Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, Bart., K.C.S.I." by Sir Leslie Stephen
And Princess Maureen was almost sorry for her vow, for her heart was touched by the beauty of the Fenian champion.
"Irish Fairy Tales" by Edmond Leamy
He was intimately acquainted with the details of the Fenian movement.
"The Red Hand of Ulster" by George A. Birmingham
I would rather not name the Fenian leaders I knew, and the reason is this.
"Ireland as It Is" by Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
The oul' lad might turn Fenian an' get transported or hung!...
"Changing Winds" by St. John G. Ervine
Fenian invasion, the, and Confederation, 113, 118.
"The Fathers of Confederation" by A. H. U. Colquhoun

In poetry:

Nay; nay, he still is kingly–
He wanders in a glen
Where Fionn goes by a-hunting
With misty Fenian men.
"The King of Ireland's Cairn" by Anna Johnston MacManus
Our feasts are without any voice of priests
And none at them but women lamenting
Tearing their hair with troubled minds
Keening miserably after the Fenians.
"A Poem Written In Time Of Trouble" by Lady Augusta Gregory
And he lay down on the rocks, and at the end of twelve days he died.
And his wife keened him there, and made a great lamentation for her
husband that had such a great name, and that was the second best of
the Fenians of Ireland.
"The Parting Of Goll And His Wife" by Lady Augusta Gregory
You were the man was best of the Fenians, beautiful Diarmuid, that
women loved. It is dark your dwelling-place is under the sod, it is
mournful and cold your bed is; it is pleasant your laugh was to-day;
you were my happiness, Diarmuid.
"Her Lament For His Death" by Lady Augusta Gregory

In news:

A group of high-ranking Fenians came and watched a thirtyinch working model plunge and surface in the waters off Coney Island, and soon afterward the trustees of the Skirmishing Fund gave Holland the money to build the real thing.
In 1870, Port Huron was the launch point along with the city of Detroit for the Fenian Brotherhood to capture British North America (now known as Canada) and hold them hostage to use as a bargaining chip to liberate Ireland.