casus belli

ca·​sus bel·​li | \ ˈkä-səs-ˈbe-ˌlē How to pronounce casus belli (audio) , ˈkā-səs-ˈbe-ˌlī How to pronounce casus belli (audio) \
plural casus belli

Definition of casus belli

: an event or action that justifies or allegedly justifies a war or conflict

Examples of casus belli in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Take the killing of Qasem Soleimani: Foreign policy sages fret about long-term reprisals from Iran, the administration's unsubstantiated casus belli and an impulsive commander-in-chief. Stephen Collinson And Caitlin Hu, CNN, "Trump's impeachment trial comes at a high point for fans," 19 Jan. 2020 But the immediate casus belli was tension over Texas, a former Mexican territory that had declared independence in 1836. Gary Kamiya,, "War in the Bay Area: Why native Californians fought U.S. takeover from Mexico," 10 Jan. 2020 There is much to criticize in Jones’s piece—the insipid prose, the intellectually dishonest mischaracterization of the casus belli in Iraq—but what is most relevant here is Jones’s thinking about second-best outcomes. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Not Enemies, But Friends," 27 Oct. 2019 These days, a casus belli can be declared in broad daylight and in time for the evening news, complete with a live enemy caught red-handed trying to remove the evidence. Kevin Baker, Harper's magazine, "The Deep State of Dementia," 19 Aug. 2019 That Kaiser Wilhelm II could have possibly been the definitive casus belli of World War I ignores the depth of complexity and a geopolitical situation that cannot be compared with the modern Trump era. WSJ, "Comparison Unfair to Wilhelm II and Trump," 11 Nov. 2018 And that’s just in one Bush department, thus leaving out the false casus belli in Iraq or the yawning deficits or the financial collapse of 2008. T.a. Frank, The Hive, "A Note to Woke Washington: The Bush Administration Was So Much Worse," 4 May 2018 In the days following the session in Burbank, Sitrick worked with Shamrock executives on a letter of resignation from Roy to Eisner that not only would deny the chairman the pleasure of ousting Roy but would be a casus belli as well. Los Angeles Magazine, "Harvey Weinstein’s New Crisis PR Man Once Handled Rush Limbaugh, R. Kelly, and Accused Catholic Priests," 19 Dec. 2017

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

circa 1841, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for casus belli

New Latin, occasion of war

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Time Traveler for casus belli

Time Traveler

The first known use of casus belli was circa 1841

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Last Updated

26 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Casus belli.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Apr. 2020.

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