bel·​li·​cose | \ ˈbe-li-ˌkōs How to pronounce bellicose (audio) \

Definition of bellicose

: favoring or inclined to start quarrels or wars

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Other Words from bellicose

bellicosity \ ˌbe-​li-​ˈkä-​sə-​tē How to pronounce bellicose (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of bellicose in a Sentence

Never in peacetime, perhaps, have the statements of our government officials been more relentlessly bellicose. Yet their actions have been comparatively cautious. New Yorker, 24 June 1985 For three centuries Viking raiders haunted western Europe. The bellicose Charlemagne himself felt menaced. — Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983 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 Pearson, Those Damned Rebels, 1972 bellicose hockey players who always seem to spend more time fighting than playing
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Recent Examples on the Web China’s navy now has more ships than ours, its missile technology is superior and its words and actions have become increasingly bellicose. WSJ, 14 July 2021 Duterte is famous for his bellicose rhetoric and his remarks on Monday contradicted those of his health officials, who have said getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is voluntary. Fox News, 23 June 2021 Beijing’s refusal to tolerate criticism from America or its friends has grown more bellicose as international condemnation has accelerated. Los Angeles Times, 26 Apr. 2021 Tebas, the outspoken, unashamedly bellicose executive in charge of Spain’s national league, wanted to be among the first to congratulate him on his victory. New York Times, 22 Apr. 2021 His bellicose rhetoric and reflexive rejection of all criticism have proven to be advantageous so far. Nathaniel Parish Flannery, Forbes, 19 Apr. 2021 Many of the comments on before Jan. 6 were intensely bellicose, the Advance Democracy report shows. Craig Timberg, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Apr. 2021 The best baseball team in history is about to embark on a season that would turn even the most blustery and bellicose of Dodgers hoarse. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2021 China, for example, has been far less bellicose in its statements about India this summer, despite the lethal clashes along their border. Steven Lee Myers, New York Times, 2 Oct. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of bellicose

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bellicose

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

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Time Traveler for bellicose

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The first known use of bellicose was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bellicose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of bellicose

formal : having or showing a tendency to argue or fight

More from Merriam-Webster on bellicose

Nglish: Translation of bellicose for Spanish Speakers


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