belligerent

adjective
bel·​lig·​er·​ent | \bə-ˈlij-rənt, -ˈli-jə-\

Definition of belligerent 

1 : inclined to or exhibiting assertiveness, hostility, or combativeness

2 : waging war specifically : belonging to or recognized as a state at war and protected by and subject to the laws of war

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Other Words from belligerent

belligerent noun
belligerently adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for belligerent

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

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 belligerent in a Sentence

… it took very little alcohol to make him belligerent, and he became even more thuggish and incoherent when he threw in a few sleeping pills as well. — Christopher Hitchens, New York Times Book Review, 8 Oct. 2000 Coots are belligerent, territorial, quick-tempered birds. Nothing irritates a coot like another coot … — Kenneth Brower, Smithsonian, December 1998 Instead, we revered the guys on the streets, the thugs who were brazen and belligerent. They wore their hats backwards, left their belt buckles unfastened and shoelaces untied. — Nathan McCall, Washington Post, 25-31 Mar. 1991 She was a brigantine, a small two-masted vessel, refitted for belligerent action in the newly created American Navy. — Barbara W. Tuchman, The First Salute, 1988 He was drunk and belligerent. the coach became quite belligerent and spit at an umpire after being thrown out of the game
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Recent Examples on the Web

She was placed there by herself because of her uncooperative and belligerent demeanor, the report states. Jacob Beltran, San Antonio Express-News, "Family seeks answers after woman hanged self in police custody," 21 June 2018 At the very least, the kerfuffle is a reminder that until a few months ago, Mr Kim was seen as untrustworthy and belligerent. The Economist, "North Korea reminds the world why past peace talks have failed," 16 May 2018 Disorderly conduct, Solon Industrial Parkway: At 9:10 a.m. March 26, police were called to Interdesign, 30725 Solon Industrial Parkway, where a temporary employee was drunk and belligerent. Jeff Piorkowski/special To Cleveland.com, cleveland.com, "Refugee arrested for sexual imposition: Solon police blotter," 5 Apr. 2018 Kathlene loved her bartending jobs and could cut off even the most belligerent drunk and charm him into leaving peacefully. Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, "Art exhibit in Pigtown humanizes female sex workers and drug addicts," 6 July 2018 But the 15-year-old did manage to pull out a cellphone camera, recording the belligerent woman and the poolside encounter that turned him into the latest victim of #LivingWhileBlack. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, "Police say woman screamed racial slurs and smacked a black teen at a pool. She lost her job.," 2 July 2018 North Korea typically responds to South Korea-U.S. military exercises with weapons tests and a string of belligerent rhetoric. CBS News, "U.S. suspends more military drills with South Korea," 22 June 2018 What made belligerent, proud Trump cave on his own policy? Fabiola Santiago, miamiherald, "Kids in cages did not move Trump to end separation policy. It was our outrage.," 20 June 2018 Stepfather described as belligerent Waukesha County Judge Lee Dreyfus said the Brookfield home was described as child-friendly during home visits, yet the child's area was not. Karen Pilarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Judges likens case to 'Wizard of Oz' in sentencing Brookfield mother, stepfather who kept child in basement," 2 Mar. 2018

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

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for belligerent

modification of Latin belligerant-, belligerans, present participle of belligerare to wage war, from belliger waging war, from bellum war + gerere to wage

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Last Updated

23 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for belligerent

The first known use of belligerent was in 1577

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More Definitions for belligerent

belligerent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of belligerent

: angry and aggressive : feeling or showing readiness to fight

: fighting a war : engaged in a war

belligerent

adjective
bel·​lig·​er·​ent | \bə-ˈli-jə-rənt \

Kids Definition of belligerent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : carrying on war belligerent nations

2 : feeling or showing readiness to fight belligerent remarks a belligerent stranger

belligerent

noun

Kids Definition of belligerent (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a nation at war

2 : a person taking part in a fight

belligerent

adjective
bel·​lig·​er·​ent | \bə-ˈli-jə-rənt \

Legal Definition of belligerent 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : waging war : carrying on war specifically : belonging to or recognized as an organized military power protected by and subject to the laws of war

2 : inclined to or exhibiting hostility or a combative temperament

belligerent

noun

Legal Definition of belligerent (Entry 2 of 2)

: a belligerent nation, state, or person

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