war

noun, often attributive
\ ˈwȯr How to pronounce war (audio) \

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.Hide
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.Hide
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
2a : a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism
b : a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end a class war a war against disease

war

verb (1)
\ ˈwȯr How to pronounce war (audio) \
warred; warring

Definition of war (Entry 2 of 4)

intransitive verb

1 : to be in active or vigorous conflict
2 : to engage in warfare

war

adverb or adjective
\ ˈwär How to pronounce war (audio) \

Definition of war (Entry 3 of 4)

chiefly Scotland
: worse

war

verb (2)
\ ˈwär How to pronounce war (audio) \
warred; warring

Definition of war (Entry 4 of 4)

Other Words from war

Noun

warless \ ˈwȯr-​ləs How to pronounce war (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for war

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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Examples of war in a Sentence

Noun They fought a war over the disputed territory. A war broke out when the colonists demanded their independence. We need to resolve our conflicts without resorting to war. People behave differently during a time of war. The taking of American hostages was seen as an act of war by the United States. the budget wars in Washington
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Since World War II, America’s theaters of war are where people of color live, work and breathe — overall deaths from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan conservatively aggregate over 1 million. Doris Bittar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Jan. 2022 Nevertheless, the authorization for war from Congress prohibited the United States from acquiring the territory outright (as the country would do to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands). Patrick Iber, The New Republic, 11 Jan. 2022 But cartoons and ballads show that his sufferings were used as propaganda by Britons eager for war with Spain, seen as a declining power whose empire offered easy pickings. Stephen Brumwell, WSJ, 7 Jan. 2022 Obama was untainted by a vote for the unpopular war in Iraq, an albatross the leader feared would sink her and take some of his party's Senate candidates down in the undertow. David Axelrod, CNN, 29 Dec. 2021 But the incident, though ultimately harmless, underscored a strategic weakness for Ukraine’s military in a tinderbox for war. Washington Post, 25 Dec. 2021 Months of quiet preparation for a war that was supposed to be swift and bloodless. New York Times, 15 Dec. 2021 That is, until the Nazis’ desire for war became impossible to ignore. Helen Roche, The Conversation, 14 Dec. 2021 That realization would likely galvanize leaders in Western capitals to increase military spending and step up military preparations for war with Russia. Loren Thompson, Forbes, 6 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The dour news arrived as Democrats and Republicans in Congress continue to war over the size and scope of the next coronavirus relief package. Tony Romm, BostonGlobe.com, 5 Aug. 2020 The dour news arrived as Democrats and Republicans in Congress continue to war over the size and scope of the next coronavirus relief package. Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2020 Selah takes on a protégée, Paloma (Celeste O’Connor), a new student and amateur photographer who has yet to be claimed by one of the school’s warring factions. Teo Bugbee, New York Times, 16 Apr. 2020 Egypt, Russia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates are all involved, supplying variously troops, fighters, and military equipment to the warring factions. Lorne Cook, BostonGlobe.com, 31 Mar. 2020 As the virus outbreak — and Israel’s response to it — swelled frighteningly in recent days, the warring factions have softened their rhetoric and embraced, tentatively, the possibility of coming together in an emergency coalition. Steve Hendrix, Washington Post, 13 Mar. 2020 The timing of the pandemic couldn’t be worse for Mexico, especially in this downtrodden city, which has long been marred by drug violence carried out by warring criminal organizations. Dallas News, 9 Apr. 2020 Nothing in your letter suggests a dire backdrop, but many young people are cut off by their parents for warring over hot topics such as religion or sexuality. Philip Galanes, New York Times, 18 Jan. 2018 Anthony Breznican ✔ @Breznican Sharon Duncan-Brewster is Dr. Liet Kynes, lead ecologist of Arrakis and a power broker amid the warring factions. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 14 Apr. 2020

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

Noun

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb (1)

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb or adjective

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for war

Noun

Middle English werre, from Anglo-French werre, guerre, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German werra strife; akin to Old High German werran to confuse

Adverb or adjective

Middle English werre, from Old Norse verri, adjective, verr, adverb; akin to Old English wiersa worse — more at worse

Learn More About war

Time Traveler for war

Time Traveler

The first known use of war was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near war

waqf

war

warabi

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for war

Last Updated

17 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“War.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/war. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for war

war

noun
\ ˈwȯr How to pronounce war (audio) \

Kids Definition of war

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a state or period of fighting between states or nations
2 : a struggle between opposing forces or for a particular end the war on poverty

war

verb
warred; warring

Kids Definition of war (Entry 2 of 2)

: to engage in a series of battles

More from Merriam-Webster on war

Nglish: Translation of war for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of war for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about war

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