adjective bel·lig·er·ent \bə-ˈlij-rənt, -ˈli-jə-\

: angry and aggressive : feeling or showing readiness to fight

: fighting a war : engaged in a war

Full Definition of BELLIGERENT

:  waging war; specifically :  belonging to or recognized as a state at war and protected by and subject to the laws of war
:  inclined to or exhibiting assertiveness, hostility, or combativeness
belligerent noun
bel·lig·er·ent·ly adverb


  1. He was drunk and belligerent.
  2. <the coach became quite belligerent and spit at an umpire after being thrown out of the game>
  3. … it took very little alcohol to make him belligerent, and he became even more thuggish and incoherent when he threw in a few sleeping pills as well. —Christopher Hitchens, New York Times Book Review, 8 Oct. 2000


modification of Latin belligerant-, belligerans, present participle of belligerare to wage war, from belliger waging war, from bellum + gerere to wage
First Known Use: 1577

Synonym Discussion of BELLIGERENT

belligerent, bellicose, pugnacious, quarrelsome, contentious mean having an aggressive or fighting attitude. belligerent often implies being actually at war or engaged in hostilities <belligerent nations>. bellicose suggests a disposition to fight <a drunk in a bellicose mood>. pugnacious suggests a disposition that takes pleasure in personal combat <a pugnacious gangster>. quarrelsome stresses an ill-natured readiness to fight without good cause <the heat made us all quarrelsome>. contentious implies perverse and irritating fondness for arguing and quarreling <wearied by his contentious disposition>.

Other Government and Politics Terms

agent provocateur, agitprop, autarky, cabal, egalitarianism, federalism, hegemony, plenipotentiary, popular sovereignty, socialism



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