chemical warfare


: tactical warfare using substances (such as incendiary mixtures, smoke, or gases) with irritant, burning, poisonous, or asphyxiating properties
There were other isolated instances of chemical warfare. The Greeks used a gas attack with sulphur fumes at the siege of Delium in 424 B.C.Bernard and Fawn M. Brodie
The forswearing of chemical warfare by the major combatants in World War II foreshadowed the later nuclear "balance of terror," during the Cold War.Clifford F. Beal

Examples of chemical warfare in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And cyanogen chloride is indeed used as a chemical warfare agent, according to the National Institutes of Health. Gabrielle Settles, USA TODAY, 30 Aug. 2016 And the federal Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response keeps a national stockpile of supplies necessary for public health emergencies, including vaccines, medical supplies and antidotes needed in case of a chemical warfare attack. Anna Maria Barry-Jester, ProPublica, 4 Mar. 2024 During the Cold War, the British government conducted more than 750 mock chemical warfare attacks on the general public, according to researchers. Wire Service, The Mercury News, 12 Mar. 2024 Drug and chemical warfare was sort of a parallel arms race alongside the nuclear arms race. David Lipset, Los Angeles Times, 12 Jan. 2024 The drones’ potential military value, ironically, had been noted by Russia’s government, which last year seized four aircraft of the same model in eastern Ukraine and claimed that Kyiv was planning to use them for chemical warfare. Joby Warrick, Anchorage Daily News, 19 July 2023 Chemical exposures with related health impacts, come related to chemical warfare agents, have also been reported. Aliza Chasan, CBS News, 20 July 2023 Throughout this week, the German military operated eight flights out of Sudan to Jordan, involving about 1,000 German personnel, including soldiers, biological and chemical warfare specialists, cyber experts, and bomb-threat experts. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Apr. 2023 The defense official did not address the 2003 briefing to then-General Austin about hydrogen cyanide but said other environmental surveys did not detect chemical warfare agents. Catherine Herridge, CBS News, 10 Apr. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use

1910, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chemical warfare was in 1910

Dictionary Entries Near chemical warfare

Cite this Entry

“Chemical warfare.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition

chemical warfare

: tactical warfare using incendiary mixtures, smokes, or irritant, burning, poisonous, or asphyxiating gases

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