: bitter sometimes violent conflict or dissension
political strife
: an act of contention : fight, struggle
: exertion or contention for superiority
archaic : earnest endeavor
strifeless adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for strife

discord, strife, conflict, contention, dissension, variance mean a state or condition marked by a lack of agreement or harmony.

discord implies an intrinsic or essential lack of harmony producing quarreling, factiousness, or antagonism.

a political party long racked by discord

strife emphasizes a struggle for superiority rather than the incongruity or incompatibility of the persons or things involved.

during his brief reign the empire was never free of civil strife

conflict usually stresses the action of forces in opposition but in static applications implies an irreconcilability as of duties or desires.

the conflict of freedom and responsibility

contention applies to strife or competition that shows itself in quarreling, disputing, or controversy.

several points of contention about the new zoning law

dissension implies strife or discord and stresses a division into factions.

religious dissension threatened to split the colony

variance implies a clash between persons or things owing to a difference in nature, opinion, or interest.

cultural variances that work against a national identity

Examples of strife in a Sentence

in order to avoid family strife, the children spend equal time during the holidays with both of their grandmothers bitter strife between the two political factions
Recent Examples on the Web She’s been captured leading grueling, hourslong rehearsals, business meetings, and studio sessions — but also processing difficult pregnancies and familial strife in more reflective moments. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 27 Nov. 2023 The Pirates sat in first place after the first round of Avocado Coast League play but ran into higher caliber opponent play, injuries and internal strife that resulted in a character-testing losing streak. Tim Meehan, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Nov. 2023 Beyond these specific outcomes, Messrs. Biden and Xi helped broadly establish a new footing for a relationship that has sunk into strife over the past five years, while setting out a vision for future cooperation. Ann Scott Tyson, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 Nov. 2023 Domestic turmoil In addition to emulating Russia and China, the timing and riskiness of Abiy’s maritime motivations warrant scrutiny, especially given Ethiopia’s ongoing internal strife. Mahad Darar, The Conversation, 13 Nov. 2023 The world is beset by the atrocities of war, political strife and a toxic cocktail of uncertainty and fear. Ann Kowal Smith, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 More immediately, the strife pits Gilbert against Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Scott), a veteran legislator from the state’s far southwest corner, who is challenging him for minority leader. Laura Vozzella, Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2023 In 1952, Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver challenged President Harry Truman, whose standing had been crushed by accusations of government corruption, the ongoing Korean War and economic strife. Geoffrey Skelley, ABC News, 31 Oct. 2023 Remember, your new morning routine should ease your life, not cause additional strife. Dominique Fluker, Essence, 24 Oct. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English strif, from Anglo-French estrif, estri, of Germanic origin; akin to Middle Dutch striden to fight, Old High German strītan to quarrel — more at stride

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of strife was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near strife

Cite this Entry

“Strife.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: bitter sometimes violent disagreement
political strife

More from Merriam-Webster on strife

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