bel·​li·​cose | \ ˈbe-li-ˌkōs How to pronounce bellicose (audio) \

Definition of bellicose

: favoring or inclined to start quarrels or wars

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Other Words from bellicose

bellicosity \ ˌbe-​li-​ˈkä-​sə-​tē How to pronounce bellicose (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for bellicose

belligerent, bellicose, pugnacious, quarrelsome, contentious mean having an aggressive or fighting attitude. belligerent often implies being actually at war or engaged in hostilities. belligerent nations bellicose suggests a disposition to fight. a drunk in a bellicose mood pugnacious suggests a disposition that takes pleasure in personal combat. a pugnacious gangster quarrelsome stresses an ill-natured readiness to fight without good cause. the heat made us all quarrelsome contentious implies perverse and irritating fondness for arguing and quarreling. wearied by his contentious disposition

Don't War Over the Meaning of Bellicose

Since bellicose describes an attitude that hopes for actual war, the word is generally applied to nations and their leaders. In the 20th century, it was commonly used to describe such figures as Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm, Italy's Benito Mussolini, and Japan's General Tojo, leaders who believed their countries had everything to gain by starting wars. The international relations of a nation with a bellicose foreign policy tend to be stormy and difficult, and bellicosity usually makes the rest of the world very uneasy.

Examples of bellicose in a Sentence

Never in peacetime, perhaps, have the statements of our government officials been more relentlessly bellicose. Yet their actions have been comparatively cautious. New Yorker, 24 June 1985 For three centuries Viking raiders haunted western Europe. The bellicose Charlemagne himself felt menaced. — Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983 His evident calm, which always infuriated the opposition, must have irritated the bellicose colonel to a point at which he could control himself no longer. — Michael Pearson, Those Damned Rebels, 1972 bellicose hockey players who always seem to spend more time fighting than playing
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Recent Examples on the Web The results of the Biden administration’s comprehensive review of China trade policy bears a striking similarity to his more bellicose predecessor. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, 5 Oct. 2021 So, Mill has no problem being bellicose and earnest. A.d. Amorosi, Variety, 1 Oct. 2021 And, of course, Facebook only suspended Trump -- who had a history of using bellicose language -- from its platform after the January 6 attack. Kara Alaimo, CNN, 22 Sep. 2021 But the United States and its allies are, on many fronts, reacting to the increasingly expansionist and bellicose tactics of China under President Xi Jinping. Washington Post, 17 Sep. 2021 It’s this new Chozo General that has seemingly appeared in the latest trailer (shown below), as well as the reveal that Samus will be fighting other similarly bellicose Chozo in their own power armor. Ollie Barder, Forbes, 29 Aug. 2021 The ink had barely dried, however, when Canberra began to grow nervous about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s bellicose foreign policy. Michael Schuman, The Atlantic, 28 July 2021 President Xi Jinping on Thursday marked his Communist Party’s 100th anniversary from Tiananmen Square and struck a bellicose tone, reconfirming China’s ‘historic mission’ to control Taiwan while warning other countries not to interfere. Fox News, 1 July 2021 Does anyone really believe someone like the bellicose Jordan would do anything other than work to protect Trump? Frida Ghitis, CNN, 22 July 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bellicose

Middle English, from Latin bellicosus, from bellicus of war, from bellum war

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The first known use of bellicose was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bellicose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of bellicose

: having or showing a tendency to argue or fight

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Nglish: Translation of bellicose for Spanish Speakers


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