bel·lig·er·ence | \bə-ˈlij-rən(t)s, -ˈli-jə-\

Definition of belligerence 

: an aggressive or truculent attitude, atmosphere, or disposition

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Did You Know?

Unlike bellicose and bellicosity, the word belligerence can be used at every level from the personal to the global. The belligerence of Marlon Brando's performances as the violent Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire electrified the country in the 1940s and '50s. At the same time, belligerent speeches by leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States throughout the Cold War were keeping the world on edge. Belligerent is even a noun; the terrible war in the Congo in recent years, for example, has involved seven nations as belligerents.

Examples of belligerence in a Sentence

The result is “Rebirth of a Nation,” a fascinating cultural history that locates the origins of Bush-era belligerence in the anxieties and modernizing impulses of the late 19th century. —“American Macho” P. 17, Beverly Gage, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, June 14, 2009 “We’re never going to play without a heavyweight [because] I need to provide a fear-free environment for my skill guys,” says Brian Burke, Anaheim’s G.M. “But the main reason we have a lot of fighting majors is that we’re committed to a style that leads to [fights]. We prize contact. If you forecheck and bang like we do, sometimes [opponents] turn around and you have to answer the bell. I won’t apologize for that ... In our bottom six forwards, we look for the requisite level of pugnacity, truculence, belligerence, hostility and testosterone.” —“More Than a Big Stick” P. 63, Karl Taro Greenfeld, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED Vol. 106 No. 6, February 12, 2007

Recent Examples on the Web

After spending so much time with Janice, who is serene and twinkly eyed and maddeningly committed to opacity in conversation, anybody might find Lynne's belligerence refreshing. Margaret Gray,, "'An Undivided Heart' on stage is 'Spotlight' meets 'A Civil Action,' with a dash of Tammy Wynette," 9 Apr. 2018 This newspaper would welcome an end to Iranian belligerence and to the regime itself, but a wish based on a hunch is not a policy. The Economist, "Scrapping the Iran deal won’t do anyone any good," 12 May 2018 In a pair of victory speeches, Mr Erdogan lurched from offers of dialogue to displays of belligerence. The Economist, "Turkey’s president sweeps the board and assumes greater powers," 25 June 2018 But if 2017 was a year of extreme belligerence from the North Korean leader, the first six months of 2018 have been the personification of the Pyongyang charm offensive. Jamie Tarabay, CNN, "How Trump and Kim made it to 'hello'," 9 June 2018 Those symptoms include belligerence, anxiety and paranoia—all of which could make one more likely to commit a crime. Michael Mccann,, "Could Kellen Winslow Jr.'s Attorneys Use Football-Induced Brain Injury as Defense for Alleged Crimes?," 16 June 2018 Within days of Trump’s election, Mexican political analysts were predicting that his open belligerence toward Mexico would encourage political resistance. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "A New Revolution in Mexico," 25 June 2012 And the lawless belligerence with which Trump has approached trade protectionism has no modern precedent. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Has Not Transformed the Republican Party – Yet," 14 June 2018 Outraged by the army’s belligerence, a group of Kachin youths held protests in Myitkyina. The Economist, "Myanmar’s government sits by while the army goes on the offensive," 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'belligerence.' 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 belligerence

1814, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for belligerence

see belligerent

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Statistics for belligerence

Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for belligerence

The first known use of belligerence was in 1814

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More from Merriam-Webster on belligerence

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for belligerence

Spanish Central: Translation of belligerence

Nglish: Translation of belligerence for Spanish Speakers

Comments on belligerence

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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