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 Russia began its troop drawdown in anticipation of the NATO summit in June, where Moscow’s neighborhood belligerence and global cyberattacks will be a main topic on the agenda. Ariel Cohen, Forbes, 27 Apr. 2021 Some who remain, including Melissa DeRosa, his top aide, have seen their own reputations ravaged by allegations of dishonesty and belligerence, even as most in state politics assume that the tone is set by the governor. New York Times, 13 Apr. 2021 Now there would be no distinction between the Republican Party and the mendacity, bigotry, belligerence, misogyny, and narcissism of its singular representative. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, 8 Mar. 2021 The frustration and belligerence, however, may actually be an overture. Kim Tong-hyung, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Mar. 2021 Rodimer’s belligerence hasn’t been limited to the wrestling ring. Gilbert Garcia, San Antonio Express-News, 19 Mar. 2021 Yet the Proud Boys’ belligerence fit the definition of terrorism, other officials said: unlawful violence and intimidation for political aims. New York Times, 14 Mar. 2021 But the belligerence of his tweets contributed to the erosion of Mr. Trump’s re-election support among suburban voters, who simply couldn’t take it any more. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, 24 Feb. 2021 After years of ignoring Trump’s social-media belligerence, suddenly civility mattered. Philip Elliott, Time, 3 Mar. 2021

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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Learn More about belligerence

Time Traveler for belligerence

Time Traveler

The first known use of belligerence was in 1814

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Statistics for belligerence

Last Updated

2 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Belligerence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on belligerence

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for belligerence

Nglish: Translation of belligerence for Spanish Speakers


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