chemical warfare


Definition of 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 Slick government videos showed soldiers in chemical warfare suits striding through empty streets, spraying disinfectant. Declan Walsh, New York Times, "Sisi Promised Egypt Better Health Care. Virus Exposed His True Priority.," 11 Nov. 2020 Phosphine is poisonous to many animals, and the colorless, flammable gas has been used in chemical warfare and by farmers to snuff out tenacious pests. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "We've Found Possible Signs of Life in Venus's Clouds. Whoa.," 14 Sep. 2020 Alexander, a medical officer attached to the staff of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower at AFHQ, had received special training in chemical warfare. Jennet Conant, Smithsonian Magazine, "How a chemical weapons disaster in World War II led to a U.S. cover-up—and a new cancer treatment," 18 Aug. 2020 Sometimes armor isn't quite enough, and chemical warfare is required. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "The Best Clothing, Chemicals, and Sprays to Prevent Tick and Chigger Bites," 13 July 2020 The 1925 Geneva Protocol categorized tear gas as a chemical warfare agent and banned its use in war shortly after World War I. Mckenzie Sadeghi, USA TODAY, "Fact check: It's true tear gas is a chemical weapon banned in war," 6 June 2020 Some ant species care for extensive gardens (admittedly of fungus), engage in war (and use chemical warfare!) and some even keep slaves. Lavie Tidhar, Washington Post, "Let’s talk about how science fiction has dealt with environmental change. It’s not all depressing.," 6 Jan. 2020 Tear gas is characterized as a chemical warfare agent, according to the Geneva Convention; these are gases that specifically activate pain-sensing nerves, according to National Geographic. Christianna Silva, Teen Vogue, "U.S. Border Patrol Agents Used Tear Gas to Disperse Hundreds of People in the Migrant Caravan," 26 Nov. 2018 Last year, the regime advertised its ability to export chemical warfare and flout international norms when the regime was accused of using the nerve agent VX to assassinate Kim’s estranged half brother in Kuala Lumpur. Theo Emery, Time, "The North Korea Summit Is Trump's Chance to Pressure Syria About Its Weapons, Too," 4 June 2018

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

1910, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for chemical warfare

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The first known use of chemical warfare was in 1910

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Last Updated

23 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Chemical warfare.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for chemical warfare

chemical warfare


English Language Learners Definition of chemical warfare

: the use of chemical substances (such as poisonous gases) as weapons in a war

chemical warfare


Medical Definition of chemical warfare

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

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