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 bellicosity (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

His bellicose rhetoric about North Korea led to unprecedented talks with its leader, Kim Jong-un, although a nuclear agreement remains elusive. Peter Baker, New York Times, "A Drama of Trump’s Own Making Ends With a Familiar Hero," 9 June 2019 Each side blamed the other for the bellicose turn of events, with Ukraine saying Russia is preparing for a full-scale invasion and Moscow calling it a political stunt by an unpopular president facing tough elections. Yuras Karmanau, The Seattle Times, "Putin derides Ukraine’s martial law as political trick," 28 Nov. 2018 The event came barely a week before Mr. Putin made his own bellicose speech, vowing to restore Russia to superpower status in intercontinental weaponry. Neil Macfarquhar, New York Times, "Patriotic Youth Army Takes Russian Kids Back to the Future," 22 Mar. 2018 Aquaman could be a nationalistic, bellicose, dictatorial threat, easily conquering the entire planet. WSJ, "Aquaman Haters Miss What Makes the Merman Great," 19 Dec. 2018 Russia and China have agreed to continue to conduct joint military exercises, as the interests of Russia and China (once far apart) begin to align in response to US military power and a bellicose President Donald Trump. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Russia, China become battle buddies at Vostok 2018," 16 Sep. 2018 His address was bellicose enough to draw a rebuke from the White House and renew fears of a Cold War-style arms race., "Today: Steeling for a Trade Fight," 2 Mar. 2018 The small gesture spoke to a big opening, a signal that Kim may be willing to break with the bellicose records of his father and grandfather and the first several years of his own time in power. Brian Bennett / Singapore, Time, "Trump and Kim Each Got a Win from the Summit. But Did the World?," 12 June 2018 While tensions on the Korean Peninsula have eased recently as North Korea participated in the Winter Olympics, Trump and Kim have exchanged bellicose taunts in past months. Kanga Kong,, "Seoul Urges Caution on North Korea Ahead of Envoys’ U.S. Visit," 7 Mar. 2018

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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Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for bellicose

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

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English Language Learners Definition of bellicose

formal : having or showing a tendency to argue or fight

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Spanish Central: Translation of bellicose

Nglish: Translation of bellicose for Spanish Speakers

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