AskDefine | Define quisling

Dictionary Definition

quisling n : someone who collaborates with an enemy occupying force [syn: collaborator, collaborationist]

User Contributed Dictionary



Named from Major Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian army officer and politician who collaborated with the occupying Germans during World War Two and was subsequently executed for treason.


  • /ˈkwɪzlɪŋ/


  1. A traitor who collaborates with the enemy, especially during the Second World War.
    • 1993: The man she cherishes, the man she butterfly-kisses, the man she sleeps curved around like two spoons in a drawer. It is he who is evil, he who is sworn to destroy her, an emotional quisling of the first water. — Will Self, My Idea of Fun


Extensive Definition

Quisling, after Norwegian politician Vidkun Quisling, who assisted Nazi Germany to conquer his own country, is a term used to describe traitors and collaborationists. It was most commonly used for fascist political parties and military and paramilitary forces in occupied Allied countries which collaborated with Axis occupiers in World War II, as well as for their members and other collaborators.
That Quisling's name should be applied to denote the whole phenomenon of collaborationism is probably due to the place of Norway on the list of countries occupied by the Third Reich. The Nazis were not interested in Polish collaborationism, because they planned to extirpate the Polish nation completely and resettle Poland with Germans, and Denmark fell within a few hours. Thus, Norway was the first country where local, non-German, fascist parties took part in the conquest of their own country after the start of the War.
In contemporary usage, "Quisling" is synonymous with "traitor", and particularly applied to politicians who appear to favour the interests of other nations or cultures over their own. In American English, the term is less well known than the equivalent phrase "Benedict Arnold".

In popular culture

The many references in cartoons, television entertainment programs, and the like, show how widespread the word quisling became after the Second World War.
  • In a wartime cartoon by a Norwegian cartoonist published in Sweden in 1944, "Audience with Hitler", Quisling says: "I am Quisling", and Hitler's adjutant replies: "And what is your name?".
  • In the 1944 Warner Bros. cartoon Tom Turk and Daffy, on Thanksgiving Day, Daffy Duck at first hides the turkey from Porky Pig and then tells Porky where the turkey is. The turkey hears this betrayal, turns toward the audience and simply says, "Quisling!"
  • In Max Brooks's novel World War Z, "quisling" refers to a human that had broken down psychologically due to the presence of zombies and thus begun acting like a zombie. These humans attack other humans mindlessly, but, ironically, are still attacked by normal zombies who can tell the difference.
  • In the eighteenth episode on the first season of the television series House, House jokes angrily with Cuddy saying, "You know, there is a new biography on Quisling you might find interesting." Cuddy doesn't understand, requiring House to explain and thus spoil the joke.
  • In an episode of the British TV series Filthy, Rich and Catflap, Richie Rich calls the milkman "Quisling" while accusing him of carrying knowledge that could "put back the British game show 50 years."
  • In the board game Renegade Legion: Interceptor, there is a character named "Ronald Quisling" who is an ingratiating but traitorous man, who seeks to backstab and replace his commanding officer.
  • In one of Charles M. Schulz's "Peanuts" comic strips, Linus called Snoopy "Quisling!" after revealing his hiding place in a game of hide and seek.
  • The 1972 story Day of the Daleks, in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, sees the Doctor accuse the controller of Earth of being a Quisling for his collaboration with the Daleks.
  • In the song 'Insect Nation' by comedian Bill Bailey, he describes Crabs — who would supposedly ally with the insects in enslaving humanity — as "Sideways Quislings".
  • In the Irish rebel song "Patriot Game", the last line refers to those who signed the compromising treaty with Britain that left Ireland divided as "qwislings".
  • On January 7, 1998 Norm Macdonald was a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman just after it was announced that he had been fired from Saturday Night Live. Throughout the interview, Letterman kept referring to MacDonald as a "Quisling" for not having fought with NBC executives to keep his job at SNL; this was made even funnier by the fact that MacDonald had no idea what the word meant. During a commercial break, MacDonald was given a dictionary to look up the word, and later in the interview he read the definition on the air.
  • In the David Thomas and Foreigners song 15 Seconds, Thomas refers to music journalist David Fricke as "one of the apologists, one of the Quislings/for the repopulation of the American continent with clones".
  • In the Robert Silverberg novel The Alien Years, quislings were humans who collaborated with the Entity invaders.
  • In an episode of the BBC's The Thick Of It, spin doctor Jamie accuses character Julius Nicholson of leaking political information to the press and calls him a "Mimsy bastard fucking Quisling leak fuck".
  • In E. E. Knight's Vampire Earth series, the inhabitants of the Ozark Free Territory refer to humans who collaborate with the Kurian invaders as Quislings.
  • In Elvis Costello's album Armed Forces, the song Green Shirt contains the line, "cause somewhere in the quisling clinic/Theres a shorthand typist taking seconds over minutes/Shes listening in to the venus line/Shes picking out names/I hope none of them are mine"
  • In the video game Mass Effect, Ashley Williams claims she does not want her family name to "go down with the likes of Quisling" after she reveals that she is a descendant of a human general made infamous by his surrender to alien forces.


quisling in Danish: Quisling
quisling in Norwegian: Quisling
quisling in Norwegian Nynorsk: Quisling
quisling in Slovenian: Kvizling
quisling in Serbian: Квислинг
quisling in Swedish: Quisling
quisling in Urdu: قوئزلنگ

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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