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

Simple Definition of belligerent

  • : angry and aggressive : feeling or showing readiness to fight

  • : fighting a war : engaged in a war

Full Definition of belligerent

  1. 1 :  waging war; specifically :  belonging to or recognized as a state at war and protected by and subject to the laws of war

  2. 2 :  inclined to or exhibiting assertiveness, hostility, or combativeness

belligerent noun
bel·lig·er·ent·ly adverb

Examples of belligerent

  1. … 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

  2. Coots are belligerent, territorial, quick-tempered birds. Nothing irritates a coot like another coot … —Kenneth Brower, Smithsonian, December 1998

  3. Instead, we revered the guys on the streets, the thugs who were brazen and belligerent. They wore their hats backwards, left their belt buckles unfastened and shoelaces untied. —Nathan McCall, Washington Post, 25-31 Mar. 1991

  4. She was a brigantine, a small two-masted vessel, refitted for belligerent action in the newly created American Navy. —Barbara W. Tuchman, The First Salute, 1988

  5. He was drunk and belligerent.

  6. <the coach became quite belligerent and spit at an umpire after being thrown out of the game>

Origin of belligerent

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>.

Rhymes with belligerent

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up belligerent? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

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