warlike; given to waging war.
of warlike character; aggressively hostile; bellicose: a belligerent tone.
waging war; engaged in war: a peace treaty between belligerent powers.
pertaining to war or to those engaged in war: belligerent rights.


a state or nation at war.
a member of the military forces of such a state.

Origin of belligerent

1570–80; < Latin belliger waging war (belli-, combining form of bellum war + ger-, base of gerere to conduct) + -ent; replacing belligerant < Latin belligerant- (stem of belligerāns, present participle of belligerāre to wage war; see -ant)
Related formsbel·lig·er·ent·ly, adverbin·ter·bel·lig·er·ent, adjectiveun·bel·lig·er·ent, adjectiveun·bel·lig·er·ent·ly, adverb
Can be confusedbelligerence belligerents

Synonyms for belligerent Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for belligerent

Contemporary Examples of belligerent

Historical Examples of belligerent

  • His automatic was swinging carelessly at the belligerent farmer.

    Louisiana Lou

    William West Winter

  • "We will not let them take him," interposed a belligerent student.

    Breaking Away

    Oliver Optic

  • Hazel, belligerent, demanded: "Are you asking us to resign?"

  • Top-lofty and arrogant and belligerent as ever, the Lizorian Prime took the call.

    The Galaxy Primes

    Edward Elmer Smith

  • Communication by wireless cannot be interrupted by a belligerent.

British Dictionary definitions for belligerent



marked by readiness to fight or argue; aggressivea belligerent tone
relating to or engaged in a legally recognized war or warfare


a person or country engaged in fighting or war

Word Origin for belligerent

C16: from Latin belliger, from bellum war + gerere to wage
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for belligerent

1570s, from Latin belligerantem (nominative belligerans), past participle of belligerare "to wage war," from bellum "war" (see bellicose) + gerere "to bear, to carry" (see gest). The noun meaning "party or nation at war" is from 1811. Related: Belligerently.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper