Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun \ˈstrīf\

Simple Definition of strife

  • : very angry or violent disagreement between two or more people or groups

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of strife

  1. 1a :  bitter sometimes violent conflict or dissension <political strife>b :  an act of contention :  fight, struggle

  2. 2 :  exertion or contention for superiority

  3. 3 archaic :  earnest endeavor


play \ˈstrī-fləs\ adjective

Examples of strife in a sentence

  1. <in order to avoid family strife, the children spend equal time during the holidays with both of their grandmothers>

  2. <bitter strife between the two political factions>

Origin and Etymology of strife

Middle English strif, from Anglo-French estrif, estri, of Germanic origin; akin to Middle Dutch striden to fight, Old High German strītan to quarrel — more at stride

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of strife

discord, strife, conflict, contention, dissension, variance mean a state or condition marked by a lack of agreement or harmony. discord implies an intrinsic or essential lack of harmony producing quarreling, factiousness, or antagonism <a political party long racked by discord>. strife emphasizes a struggle for superiority rather than the incongruity or incompatibility of the persons or things involved <during his brief reign the empire was never free of civil strife>. conflict usually stresses the action of forces in opposition but in static applications implies an irreconcilability as of duties or desires <the conflict of freedom and responsibility>. contention applies to strife or competition that shows itself in quarreling, disputing, or controversy <several points of contention about the new zoning law>. dissension implies strife or discord and stresses a division into factions <religious dissension threatened to split the colony>. variance implies a clash between persons or things owing to a difference in nature, opinion, or interest <cultural variances that work against a national identity>.

STRIFE Defined for Kids


noun \ˈstrīf\

Definition of strife for Students

  1. :  bitter and sometimes violent disagreement <political strife>

Seen and Heard

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


tending to vanish like vapor

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • bride-of-dracula-in-cat-form-surrounded-by-candles-and-somewhat-bewilderingly-orange-sacks-instead-of-surely-much-cheaper-and-easier-to-find-actual-pumpkins
  • Which is a synonym of phlegmatic?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.