adjective bel·li·cose \ ˈbe-li-ˌkōs \
|Updated on: 10 Aug 2018

Definition of bellicose

: favoring or inclined to start quarrels or wars


play \ˌbe-li-ˈkä-sə-tē\ noun

Examples of bellicose in a Sentence

  1. Never in peacetime, perhaps, have the statements of our government officials been more relentlessly bellicose. Yet their actions have been comparatively cautious. New Yorker24 June 1985
  2. For three centuries Viking raiders haunted western Europe. The bellicose Charlemagne himself felt menaced. —Daniel J. BoorstinThe Discoverers1983
  3. His evident calm, which always infuriated the opposition, must have irritated the bellicose colonel to a point at which he could control himself no longer. —Michael PearsonThose Damned Rebels1972
  4. bellicose hockey players who always seem to spend more time fighting than playing

Recent Examples of bellicose from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bellicose.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Don't War Over The Meaning of bellicose

Since bellicose describes an attitude that hopes for actual war, the word is generally applied to nations and their leaders. In the 20th century, it was commonly used to describe such figures as Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm, Italy's Benito Mussolini, and Japan's General Tojo, leaders who believed their countries had everything to gain by starting wars. The international relations of a nation with a bellicose foreign policy tend to be stormy and difficult, and bellicosity usually makes the rest of the world very uneasy.

Origin and Etymology of bellicose

Middle English, from Latin bellicosus, from bellicus of war, from bellum war

Synonym Discussion of bellicose

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

BELLICOSE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of bellicose for English Language Learners

  • : having or showing a tendency to argue or fight

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very hard to disturb or upset

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