Essential Meaning of war
1 : a state or period of fighting between countries or groups They fought a war over the disputed territory. A war broke out when the colonists demanded their independence. See More Examplesa nuclear war [=a war fought using nuclear weapons] We need to resolve our conflicts without resorting to war. People behave differently during a time of war. War could break out soon. [=a war might start soon] The two countries were at war (with each other). The President decided against going to war. [=starting a war with another country] The taking of American hostages was seen as an act of war by the United States.
2 : a situation in which people or groups compete with or fight against each other a class war countries conducting trade wars See More Examplesthe budget wars in Washington Local politicians were at war [=fighting] with one another over the vacant seat.
3 : an organized effort by a government or other large organization to stop or defeat something that is viewed as dangerous or bad the war on/against cancer the war on drugs
Full 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
Definition of war (Entry 2 of 4)
1 : to be in active or vigorous conflict
2 : to engage in warfare
waradverb or adjective
Definition of war (Entry 3 of 4)
Love words? Need even more definitions?Merriam-Webster unabridged
Words at Play
“In Vino Veritas” and Other Latin Phrases to Live By
Top 10 Latin Phrases
10 Polite Words for Impolite People
'Smatchet', 'Fustilugs', and more
Is It 'Home In' or 'Hone In'?
Both are used, but home in does a better job of...
Merriam-Webster's Words of the Week - Jan. 21
From the week ending 1/21/2022
Ask the Editors