conflict

1 of 2

noun

con·​flict ˈkän-ˌflikt How to pronounce conflict (audio)
1
: fight, battle, war
an armed conflict
2
a
: competitive or opposing action of incompatibles : antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons)
a conflict of principles
b
: mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands
His conscience was in conflict with his duty.
3
: the opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction
The conflict in the play is between the king and the archbishop.
conflictful adjective
conflictual
kän-ˈflik-chə-wəl How to pronounce conflict (audio)
kən-
-chəl
-shwəl
-chü-əl
adjective

conflict

2 of 2

verb

con·​flict kən-ˈflikt How to pronounce conflict (audio)
ˈkän-ˌflikt
conflicted; conflicting; conflicts

intransitive verb

1
: to be different, opposed, or contradictory : to fail to be in agreement or accord
His statement conflicts with the facts.
2
archaic : to contend in warfare
confliction noun
conflictive
kən-ˈflik-tiv How to pronounce conflict (audio)
ˈkän-ˌflik-
adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for conflict

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 conflict in a Sentence

Noun In great wars—the American Civil War, the First and Second World Wars—the largest casualties are suffered just before the conflicts end. Steve Forbes, Forbes, 19 Oct. 2009
At a moment when the country was still in the throes of the conflict over Vietnam, it was refreshing to see the best of America. Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, 2006
… for work-family conflicts to disappear, two rock-ribbed institutions must change: the whole concept of children's care, and the way the workplace works. Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Family Politics, 1983
The basic conflict in the novel is, of course, between the life on the river, where Huck finds innocence, brotherhood with man, and communion with nature, and life ashore, where, stage by stage, he discovers the corruption of society … Robert Penn Warren, Democracy and Poetry, (1975) 1976
a conflict between two gangs recent violent conflict in the region Everyone in my family always tries to avoid conflict. There was inevitable conflict over what to name the group. They're having serious conflicts over the budget. I don't see any conflicts between the theories. You'll need to resolve the conflict between your parents' plans for you and your own ambitions. Verb Mr. van Wolferen says the U.S. must do more: It has to openly explain to Japan that it wants a managed-trade deal in order to end the bickering between the two nations, a move that would conflict with America's free-trade rhetoric. David P. Hamilton, Wall Street Journal, 8 June 1995
The expectations about motherhood as full-time job that this situation created conflicted with the philosophy of the women's movement of the l960's. Anita Shreve, New York Times Magazine, 2l Nov. 1982
Lily smiled faintly at the injunction to take her tea strong. It was the temptation she was always struggling to resist. Her craving for the keen stimulant was forever conflicting with that other craving for sleep … Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, 1905
Reports conflicted on how many people were involved. his statement conflicts with the facts, as given in the police report
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Neither wants to have a legal obligation to fight for the other and be dragged into an unnecessary conflict. Alexander Gabuev, Foreign Affairs, 9 Apr. 2024 History: The roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and mistrust are deep and complex, predating the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Claire Parker, Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for conflict 

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English conflicte, conflyte "battle, struggle, assault," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French conflykte, conflict, borrowed from Latin conflīctus "striking together, clash," from conflīgere "to strike together, bring into collision, do battle, contend" (from con- con- + flīgere "to strike, dash down") + -tus, suffix of action nouns — more at profligate entry 1

Verb

Middle English conflicten "to engage in battle, fight," borrowed from Latin conflīctus, past participle of conflīgere "to strike together, bring into collision, do battle, contend" — more at conflict entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of conflict was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near conflict

Cite this Entry

“Conflict.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conflict. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

conflict

1 of 2 noun
con·​flict ˈkän-ˌflikt How to pronounce conflict (audio)
1
: an extended struggle : fight, battle
2
a
: a clashing or sharp disagreement (as between ideas, interests, or purposes)
b
: mental struggle resulting from needs, drives, wishes, or demands that are in opposition or are not compatible

conflict

2 of 2 verb
con·​flict kən-ˈflikt How to pronounce conflict (audio)
ˈkän-ˌflikt
: to be in opposition : clash
duty and desire often conflict

Medical Definition

conflict

noun
con·​flict ˈkän-ˌflikt How to pronounce conflict (audio)
: mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands
conflictful adjective
conflictless adjective
conflictual adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on conflict

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