: bitter sometimes violent conflict or dissension
political strife
: an act of contention : fight, struggle
: exertion or contention for superiority
archaic : earnest endeavor
strifeless adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for strife

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

Example Sentences

in order to avoid family strife, the children spend equal time during the holidays with both of their grandmothers bitter strife between the two political factions
Recent Examples on the Web What happened with First Republic Bank? Deposits and most assets from First Republic Bank were seized early Monday and sold to JPMorgan Chase Bank to prevent further banking strife across the U.S. Rae Johnson, The Courier-Journal, 1 May 2023 Amid the civil strife in Sudan, countries have opted for a range of strategies, from China’s flexing of new military muscle to evacuate Chinese people, to Gulf nations routing their citizens out even as their diplomats stay put in Sudan. Lenora Chu, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Apr. 2023 In an echo of the ethnic strife that plagued the region two decades ago and led to accusations of genocide, a witness told The Washington Post that the sudden outbreak of fighting has been mainly between the ethnically African Masalit groups and Arab militant groups. Hafiz Haroun, Washington Post, 28 Apr. 2023 Speaking to Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce members in Washington DC, Yellen said that if Congress failed to act that would lead to job losses and widespread economic strife. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 26 Apr. 2023 Despite the internal strife over the judicial plan, which many here view as the most fundamental schism in the country since 1948, there are Israelis on both sides who say that there is also much to celebrate on Independence Day. Isabel Kershner, New York Times, 23 Apr. 2023 The possibility of labor strife crippling the entertainment industry was the dominant topic of conversation at Variety’s Power of Law breakfast, presented by City National Bank on April 20 in Beverly Hills. Sophia Scorziello, Variety, 21 Apr. 2023 The battling factions have both claimed to have made gains amid airstrikes and fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and strife across the country. Reuters, NBC News, 18 Apr. 2023 Sudan has a long history of civil strife, but much of that has taken place in remote tribal areas, far from Khartoum. Jack Jeffery And Samy Magdy, USA TODAY, 17 Apr. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English strif, from Anglo-French estrif, estri, of Germanic origin; akin to Middle Dutch striden to fight, Old High German strītan to quarrel — more at stride

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of strife was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near strife

Cite this Entry

“Strife.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


: bitter sometimes violent disagreement
political strife

More from Merriam-Webster on strife

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!