bel·​lig·​er·​ence | \ bə-ˈlij-rən(t)s How to pronounce belligerence (audio) , -ˈli-jə- \

Definition of belligerence

: an aggressive or truculent attitude, atmosphere, or disposition

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Belligerent, Belligerents, and Belligerence

Belligerent may function as either an adjective or a noun. As an adjective, it has two primary meanings, each of which corresponds to the two senses of its noun form.

The older sense (“waging war”) is generally used to refer to the actions or combatants of a nation at war, or to the nation itself ("belligerent operations"; "belligerent troops"; “the belligerent state”); it is paralleled by the earliest sense of the noun, “a nation at war” (“the belligerents assembled at the peace conference”). The second sense of belligerent (“inclined to or exhibiting assertiveness, hostility, or combativeness”), which usually applies to persons or animals, or to their attitudes or actions, likewise parallels the second sense of the noun (“a person taking part in a fight”). A related noun belligerence refers to “an aggressive or truculent attitude, atmosphere, or disposition” that can be either individual or global.

Examples of belligerence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Smith argues that German nationalism resulted not from a long history of belligerence, but from a sense of failure and humiliation going back no further than Napoleon’s conquests. Ian Buruma, Harper's Magazine, "Teutomania," 23 June 2020 Gundy’s hair must go, but most importantly so must the totality of his belligerence if Oklahoma State can ever move past this and grow from the experience without him losing his job there. Joseph Goodman |, al, "It’s time for Mike Gundy to get a haircut," 17 June 2020 Egypt and Turkey’s diplomatic ties are strained and, with little optimism for a long-term political solution in Libya, there may be more friction and belligerence between them this year. Nicholas Saidel, WSJ, "The Middle East Conflict You Haven’t Heard About," 9 Feb. 2020 Pompeo is likely to look even more myopic in light of the humanitarian tsunami crashing over Iran: His belligerence will only reinforce for Iranians the image of a callous America choosing to bully Iran’s regime as its people suffer. Daniel Benaim, The New Republic, "The Coronavirus Could Kill Millions. U.S.-Iran Hostilities Will Make It Worse.," 23 Mar. 2020 Beijing is determined to prove the superiority of its development model; its increasing belligerence has starkly demonstrated the choices facing the developing world. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "India as Counterweight to China in Asia," 5 Mar. 2020 Amid rising economic belligerence, in particular from America, rich-world companies will naturally think twice before investing abroad. The Economist, "Emerging-market dreams of rich-world incomes meet reality," 1 Aug. 2019 China’s undisguised belligerence toward Taiwan — in words and actions — has given Ms. Tsai’s campaign a new vigor. Chris Horton, New York Times, "China Looms Over Taiwan’s Election, Giving a Boost to the Incumbent," 8 Jan. 2020 As Beijing well knows, sometimes a leader’s belligerence toward other nations is really aimed at an audience at home. Washington Post, "Trump’s Real Target Is the Fed, Not China," 6 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for belligerence

Time Traveler

The first known use of belligerence was in 1814

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Statistics for belligerence

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Belligerence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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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

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