bel·​lig·​er·​ence bə-ˈlij-rən(t)s How to pronounce belligerence (audio)
: 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

the dominant male wolf was able to withstand the belligerence of younger challengers
Recent Examples on the Web Today, in the wake of Russia’s aggression, China’s belligerence and the growing cooperation between the world’s revanchist regimes, the time has come to strengthen NATO with new members, inviolable spending commitments and consequences for failing to meet them. Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post, 8 July 2024 The American credibility deficit is also frequently invoked to account for China’s growing belligerence. Keren Yarhi-Milo, Foreign Affairs, 18 June 2024 China’s belligerence also resurrects India’s old strategic concern about a potential two-front war with Pakistan acting in tandem with China. Praveen Donthi, Foreign Affairs, 4 June 2024 Apropos of legal belligerence, suggesting lawsuits at the outset immediately trades the conference room for the courtroom, and that’s not a place to work out differences. Patrick Wallis, Baltimore Sun, 24 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for belligerence 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'belligerence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see belligerent

First Known Use

1814, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of belligerence was in 1814

Dictionary Entries Near belligerence

Cite this Entry

“Belligerence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


bel·​lig·​er·​ence bə-ˈlij(-ə)-rən(t)s How to pronounce belligerence (audio)
: a belligerent attitude or disposition

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