war crime


: a crime (such as genocide or maltreatment of prisoners) committed during or in connection with war
usually used in plural
war criminal noun

Example Sentences

He was found guilty of torture and other war crimes.
Recent Examples on the Web March also saw a resumption, after a hiatus of nearly a month, of mass airborne attacks targeting Ukraine’s civilian energy infrastructure — a potential war crime. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 16 Mar. 2023 Russia’s campaign against civilian targets and infrastructure is, as the EU representative to Ukraine pointed out, a clear war crime. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 10 Mar. 2023 In later decades, Ferencz championed the creation of an international court which could prosecute any government’s leaders for war crimes. Mike Schneider, ajc, 8 Apr. 2023 Ankara does not recognize the International Criminal Court, which issued a warrant this month for the Russian leader over war crimes in Ukraine. Emily Rauhala, Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2023 Last month, prosecutors there issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of war crimes in Ukraine. Greg Miller, Anchorage Daily News, 29 Mar. 2023 Xi stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Putin days after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the Russian leader's arrest for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. Harold Maass, The Week, 23 Mar. 2023 Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit this week to a battered, beleaguered Vladimir Putin only highlighted its new role, as the Chinese leader publicly legitimized a Russian president who was indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes only last week. Alex Stamos, CNN, 23 Mar. 2023 The trip comes days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of war crimes in Ukraine. Nicole Fallert, USA TODAY, 21 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'war crime.' 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

1906, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of war crime was in 1906

Dictionary Entries Near war crime

Cite this Entry

“War crime.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/war%20crime. Accessed 1 Jun. 2023.

Legal Definition

war crime

: an act committed usually during an international war for which individual criminal liability will be imposed by a domestic or international tribunal
specifically : a violation of the laws or customs of war as embodied or recognized by international treaty, court decisions, or established practice
usually used in pl.

Note: Following World War II, the Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg first codified war crimes including crimes against humanity. Also encompassed in the legal concept of war crimes is the crime of planning or waging a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties.

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