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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The allegations prompted the United States to accuse what was then the Soviet Union and its allies of chemical warfare. Katie Hunt, CNN, 20 May 2022 At the time of the outbreak of Syria’s civil war in 2011, Damascus controlled one of the world’s largest and most advanced stockpiles of chemical weapons, including hundreds of tons of binary sarin and VX, two of the deadliest chemical warfare agents ever made. Joby Warrick And Souad Mekhennet, Anchorage Daily News, 13 Dec. 2021 Phosgene gas, which causes vomiting and respiratory issues, was used in chemical warfare during World War I and has been linked to emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 13 Feb. 2023 Back in World War I, soldiers weren’t the only casualties of chemical warfare; the laborers who filled shells with toxic gas also suffered overwhelming injury rates. Wil Sands, WIRED, 9 Feb. 2023 The remaining recruits are tested with a chemical warfare challenge and reveal what inspired them to sign up for the show. Olivia Mccormack, Washington Post, 8 Feb. 2023 Since then, she’s forged a career as an emergency medicine physician, interviewed veterans of chemical warfare and moved into private practice in the booming wellness industry. Lauren Hepler, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Jan. 2022 Military officials weren’t certain whether herbicides were considered chemical warfare, which was a violation of the Geneva Convention, and the U.S. opted not to attack Japanese rice fields. Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi, Discover Magazine, 25 May 2022 One of the more infamous and devastating uses of such warfare came about during World War II through Unit 731, a biological and chemical warfare unit of the Imperial Japanese Army. Jeremy Hsu, Discover Magazine, 17 July 2015 See More

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 28 May. 2023.

Medical Definition

chemical warfare

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

More from Merriam-Webster on chemical warfare

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