war

noun, often attributive
\ ˈwȯr \

Definition of war

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a(1) : a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations
(2) : a period of such armed conflict
(3) : state of war
b : the art or science of warfare
c(1) obsolete : weapons and equipment for war
(2) archaic : soldiers armed and equipped for war
2a : a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism
b : a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end a class war a war against disease

war

verb (1)
warred; warring

Definition of war (Entry 2 of 4)

intransitive verb

1 : to be in active or vigorous conflict
2 : to engage in warfare
\ ˈwär \

Definition of war (Entry 3 of 4)

chiefly Scotland
: worse

war

verb (2)
\ ˈwär \
warred; warring

Definition of war (Entry 4 of 4)

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Other Words from war

Noun

warless \ ˈwȯr-​ləs \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for war

Synonyms: Noun

conflagration, conflict, hostilities, hot war

Antonyms: Noun

peace

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Examples of war in a Sentence

Noun

They fought a war over the disputed territory. A war broke out when the colonists demanded their independence. We need to resolve our conflicts without resorting to war. People behave differently during a time of war. The taking of American hostages was seen as an act of war by the United States. the budget wars in Washington
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Consider a hypothetical conventional war between the United States and Russia. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Trump Administration Begins Production of New Nuclear Weapon," 1 Feb. 2019 Dietz is one new recruit who begins to experience the war differently from his fellow soldiers. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "All the science fiction and fantasy books we’re looking forward to in 2019," 30 Dec. 2018 After 9/11, stories like Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings films provided essential tales of optimism in response to widespread narratives of war and anti-globalization. Aja Romano, Vox, "In the era of Trump and apocalyptic change, Hopepunk is a storytelling template for #resistance — and hanging onto your humanity at all costs.," 27 Dec. 2018 The network nabbed it a hard-fought bidding war with Lance Bass. Rose Minutaglio, Country Living, "'The Brady Bunch' Cast Reunited for HGTV's New Series 'A Very Brady Renovation'," 1 Nov. 2018 Pike and Burnham catch Reno up to speed, who didn't even know that the Klingon-Federation war was over let alone that the space rock that's been her home for ten months is about to explode. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "'Star Trek: Discovery' Season Two Wants You to Forget About Season One," 18 Jan. 2019 Gabbard is in many ways the antithesis of the current POTUS: young, female, progressive, experienced in war, and happens to be the first Hindu to serve in Congress. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Who’s In and Who’s Out of the 2020 Presidential Race—So Far," 3 Jan. 2019 The Republican war on the fairness of American elections is, by its nature, a project that targets one of the core victories of the civil rights movement. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The 9 thinkers who made sense of 2018’s chaos," 27 Dec. 2018 Disney beat Comcast in a bidding war for the Fox properties earlier this year. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Amazon trying to buy 22 cable TV sports channels, including Yankees network," 20 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The cease-fire between the warring sides in Yemen was announced before the vote, a result of the first direct talks between the sides in two years. Dion Nissenbaum, WSJ, "Yemen Foes Agree on Cease-Fire Amid U.S. Pressure," 13 Dec. 2018 Extra police and troops were sent in after warring drug gangs increased killings in the state in 2017. Mark Stevenson, The Seattle Times, "Mexico sees 16 percent rise in murders in 1st half of 2018," 23 July 2018 The sides are currently warring over whether two top law firms -- Gibson Dunn and David Wright Tremaine -- have to hand over documents being claimed as privileged. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Al Jazeera Says Peyton Manning Was "Source" Confirming Doping Claims in Film," 1 June 2018 In 2008, Lebanon’s warring factions met in Qatar and brought about an end to a political stalemate, paving the way for presidential elections. Nicolas Parasie, WSJ, "Qatar Muscles in on Saudi Arabia With Lebanon Investment," 21 Jan. 2019 However, earlier this year, South Korea made some breakthroughs with its warring neighbor after a series of meetings and discussions that resulted in North Korea's sending athletes to compete in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. NBC News, "North Korea's Kim Jong Un crosses border for historic talks with South," 27 Apr. 2018 The gangs have evolved a more violent, chaotic economic model, one that is advancing in drug-trafficking countries, including Mexico, where large cartels have splintered into many warring groups. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, "Why Are People Fleeing Central America? A New Breed of Gangs Is Taking Over.," 2 Nov. 2018 But splitting the country into tiny warring groups is useful to them. Fox News, "New evidence of political bias at Google; gender politics at play in Michigan Senate race," 21 Sep. 2018 Expect to deal with warring factions, difficult moral quandaries, and hard choices over what gear to wear. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "The 40 games we can’t wait to play in 2019," 26 Dec. 2018

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

Noun

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb or adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for war

Noun

Middle English werre, from Anglo-French werre, guerre, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German werra strife; akin to Old High German werran to confuse

Adverb or adjective

Middle English werre, from Old Norse verri, adjective, verr, adverb; akin to Old English wiersa worse — more at worse

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Statistics for war

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for war

The first known use of war was in the 12th century

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More Definitions for war

war

noun

English Language Learners Definition of war

: a state or period of fighting between countries or groups
: a situation in which people or groups compete with or fight against each other
: an organized effort by a government or other large organization to stop or defeat something that is viewed as dangerous or bad

war

noun
\ ˈwȯr \

Kids Definition of war

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a state or period of fighting between states or nations
2 : a struggle between opposing forces or for a particular end the war on poverty

war

verb
warred; warring

Kids Definition of war (Entry 2 of 2)

: to engage in a series of battles

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More from Merriam-Webster on war

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with war

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for war

Spanish Central: Translation of war

Nglish: Translation of war for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of war for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about war

Comments on war

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