adjective bel·li·cose \ˈbe-li-ˌkōs\

Definition of bellicose

  1. :  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 Yorker, 24 June 1985

  2. For three centuries Viking raiders haunted western Europe. The bellicose Charlemagne himself felt menaced. —Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983

  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 Pearson, Those Damned Rebels, 1972

  4. bellicose hockey players who always seem to spend more time fighting than playing

Did You Know?

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

First Known Use: 15th century

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


adjective bel·li·cose \ˈbe-li-ˌkōs\

Definition of bellicose for English Language Learners

  • : having or showing a tendency to argue or fight

Seen and Heard

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to cast off or become cast off

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