bel·​lig·​er·​ence | \ bə-ˈlij-rən(t)s How to pronounce belligerence (audio) , -ˈli-jə- \

Definition of belligerence

: an aggressive or truculent attitude, atmosphere, or disposition

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Belligerent, Belligerents, and Belligerence

Belligerent may function as either an adjective or a noun. As an adjective, it has two primary meanings, each of which corresponds to the two senses of its noun form.

The older sense (“waging war”) is generally used to refer to the actions or combatants of a nation at war, or to the nation itself ("belligerent operations"; "belligerent troops"; “the belligerent state”); it is paralleled by the earliest sense of the noun, “a nation at war” (“the belligerents assembled at the peace conference”). The second sense of belligerent (“inclined to or exhibiting assertiveness, hostility, or combativeness”), which usually applies to persons or animals, or to their attitudes or actions, likewise parallels the second sense of the noun (“a person taking part in a fight”). A related noun belligerence refers to “an aggressive or truculent attitude, atmosphere, or disposition” that can be either individual or global.

Examples of belligerence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The message is unambiguous: Flanked by fellow democracies, the U.S. is gearing up to oppose Chinese belligerence. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, 16 Sep. 2021 Schrader’s more interested in a larger dimension of social context involving America’s invasion of Iraq, and American belligerence in other forms. Michael Phillips,, 8 Sep. 2021 To submit to an ideology of belligerence was a form of humiliation that destroyed one’s humanity. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 Rowdy, sometimes threatening, crowds filled town halls for Democratic legislators that summer, their bristling belligerence foreshadowing the conservative turnout surge that swept the GOP to massive gains in the 2010 election. Ronald Brownstein, CNN, 1 June 2021 Our foreign policy wise people responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by embracing belligerence. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 23 Aug. 2021 Officers were cautious about arresting Sherman because of his size, strength and belligerence, according to police reports released Thursday. Gene Johnson, ajc, 16 July 2021 The Biden administration should support this to signal that the U.S. and Europe are serious about standing up for our friends in the region and against Russian belligerence. Rob Portman, WSJ, 9 June 2021 Officers were cautious about arresting Sherman because of his size, strength and belligerence, according to police reports released Thursday. Gene Johnson, ajc, 16 July 2021

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

1814, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for belligerence

see belligerent

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Time Traveler for belligerence

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The first known use of belligerence was in 1814

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Last Updated

23 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Belligerence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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Nglish: Translation of belligerence for Spanish Speakers


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