Definition of war in English:

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Pronunciation: /wɔː/


[mass noun]
1A state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country: Japan declared war on Germany the two countries were at war for the next eight years [count noun]: I fought in two wars
More example sentences
  • We are at war, and the Army intends to keep its soldiers equipped with the best gear available.
  • We are a nation at war and the Army is carrying the majority of that load for the nation.
  • According to Clausewitz, the main objective of an army at war is to defeat the opposing army.
conflict, warfare, combat, fighting, struggle, armed conflict, action, military action, bloodshed, contest, tussle;
battle, skirmish, fight, clash, confrontation, engagement, affray, encounter, collision, offensive, attack, blitz, siege;
campaign, crusade, feud, vendetta;
strife, hostility, enmity, antagonism, discord, disunity, animus, ill will, bad blood;
1.1A state of competition or hostility between different people or groups: she was at war with her parents [count noun]: a price war among tour operators
More example sentences
  • The battle for control of Novar, the industrial conglomerate, has all the makings of a highly charged hostile bid war.
  • One such bridging concept is struggle, which incorporates notions of both competition and war.
  • For many a Leo-Aries, life is seen as war, and competition can be everything.
1.2A sustained campaign against an undesirable situation or activity: the authorities are waging war against smuggling [count noun]: a war on drugs
More example sentences
  • The war on slums was a campaign in the real war.
  • Police have announced a new battleground for their war on anti-social behaviour in the borough.
  • The cost of carrying such project would be infinitesimally smaller that the cost of present war on terrorism.

verb (wars, warring, warred)

[no object]
Engage in a war: small states warred against each another figurative conflicting emotions warred within her
More example sentences
  • Every emotion he'd ever known warred within his head and gut, twisting his insides about with sickening force.
  • As both books well demonstrate, the organizations warred with each other as much as they worked against a common enemy.
  • Frustration and uncertainty had warred within him as he awaited Jerry's arrival home.
fight, battle, combat, wage war, make war, be at war, be in conflict, conduct a war, do battle, join battle, take the field, take up arms;
feud, quarrel, struggle, strive, contend, grapple, wrangle, tilt, cross swords, lock horns, come to blows;
attack, engage, clash with, encounter, take on, set to, skirmish with, grapple with



go to war

Declare, begin, or see active service in a war: he joined the RAF before the country went to war of the four brothers who went to war, only Thomas survived
More example sentences
  • During the Second World War, they also went to war and they fought the best way they could.
  • Questions are piling up about going to war or not going to war, with one or both.
  • Taiko is the ancient art of drumming that was performed by the Japanese on the battlefield before going to war.

go to the wars

archaic Serve as a soldier: I did all I could to dissuade him from going to the wars
More example sentences
  • The archer looks sensitively out of a stygian background, his steel breastplate a reflective pool of foreboding; an uneasy, valedictory picture of a youth going to the wars.
  • Susan goes on to say that Partridge further said that Sophia was ‘dying for love of the young squire, and that he was going to the wars to get rid of you’.
  • Let us hope that volume two gets religion (conspicuously absent here) and goes to the wars, from which the fourteenth century has plenty to choose.

be in the wars

informal Be (or have been) injured: Roebuck continues to be in the wars and suffered a broken jaw
More example sentences
  • Lesley is in the wars again this time with a smashed wisdom tooth.
  • I hesitate to mention this when poor Gert is in the wars, but I have hurt myself.
  • A woman held hostage by gunmen in Iraq for 24 hours is on her way home today - but will be in the wars with her mum!

war clouds

Used to refer to a threatening situation of instability in international relations: the war clouds were looming
More example sentences
  • It looks like just as monsoon clouds gather, the war clouds are dispersing.
  • As the war clouds over India and Pakistan begin to drift away, we can perhaps afford the luxury of turning our attention to less life-threatening issues.
  • As war clouds gather in the hellish heat of summer, and the Kashmir tragedy continues to unfold, it is worth pondering the state of affairs we find ourselves in.

war of attrition

A prolonged period of conflict during which each side seeks to gradually wear down the other by a series of small-scale actions.
Example sentences
  • The midfield sector at this stage of the game resembled a war of attrition with neither side gaining a stronghold.
  • The combat is certainly much better than it was last year, so it's a shame that some of the boss battles turn into wars of attrition with petty single-hit attacks.
  • Another heavy struggle for the clock, with one team finally imposing its will in a war of attrition, minus the stand-to and the morning hate?

war of nerves

see nerve.

war of words

A prolonged, often acrimonious, debate: the political war of words over tax
More example sentences
  • Rather than sparking debate on the issue, it sparked a war of words between the various political parties.
  • Legalised brothels and drug raves in parks have sparked a political war of words in Manchester.
  • Recently he has been involved in so many wars of words that he is battle weary.

war to end all wars

A war, especially the First World War, regarded as making subsequent wars unnecessary.
Example sentences
  • It's most ironic in 2001 looking back that this was what they believed: that the First World War was the war to end all wars.
  • The First World War was dubbed the war to end all wars.
  • It was called the Great War, the war to end all wars.


Late Old English werre, from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French guerre, from a Germanic base shared by worse.

  • Before the mid 12th century there was no English word exactly meaning war, nor did any of their Germanic relatives have one despite their warlike reputation. The word came over from Old French guerre and is related to worse (Old English). The Guerre itself is of Germanic origin, and originally meant ‘confusion, discord’.

Words that rhyme with war

abhor, adore, afore, anymore, ashore, awe, bandore, Bangalore, before, boar, Boer, bore, caw, chore, claw, cocksure, comprador, cor, core, corps, craw, Delors, deplore, door, draw, drawer, evermore, explore, flaw, floor, for, forbore, fore, foresaw, forevermore, forswore, four, fourscore, furthermore, Gábor, galore, gnaw, gore, grantor, guarantor, guffaw, hard-core, Haugh, haw, hoar, ignore, implore, Indore, interwar, jaw, Johor, Lahore, law, lessor, lor, lore, macaw, man-o'-war, maw, mirador, mor, more, mortgagor, Mysore, nevermore, nor, oar, obligor, offshore, onshore, open-jaw, or, ore, outdoor, outwore, paw, poor, pore, pour, rapport, raw, roar, saw, scaur, score, senhor, señor, shaw, ship-to-shore, shop-floor, shore, signor, Singapore, snore, soar, softcore, sore, spore, store, straw, swore, Tagore, tau, taw, thaw, Thor, threescore, tor, tore, torr, trapdoor, tug-of-war, two-by-four, underfloor, underscore, warrantor, Waugh, whore, withdraw, wore, yaw, yore, your

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: war

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