[ kuhm-bat-iv, kom-buh-tiv, kuhm- ]
/ kəmˈbæt ɪv, ˈkɒm bə tɪv, ˈkʌm- /
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See synonyms for: combative / combatively / combativeness / combativity on Thesaurus.com

ready or inclined to fight; pugnacious: He displayed a most unpleasant, combative attitude.
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Origin of combative

First recorded in 1825–35; combat + -ive


com·bat·ive·ly, adverbcom·bat·ive·ness, com·ba·tiv·i·ty [kom-buh-tiv-i-tee], /ˌkɒm bəˈtɪv ɪ ti/, nounun·com·bat·ive, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does combative mean?

Combative means inclined to fight or prone to being argumentative.

It’s especially used to describe someone who has become defensive and is disputing things in a belligerent way. It’s not commonly applied to someone who’s prone to starting physical fights.

It can also be used to describe situations in which someone or multiple people are acting this way, such as a combative press conference or a combative meeting. 

The word combatant is commonly used as a noun meaning one of the sides engaged in a fight, but it can also be used as an adjective meaning the same thing as combative.

Example: The senator became combative when faced with some tough questions during the town hall meeting.

Where does combative come from?

The first records of the word combative come from the 1800s. It ultimately comes from the Late Latin combattere, from com-, meaning “with” or “together,” and the Latin verb battuere, meaning “to strike” or “to beat.” The word battle is based on this same root. The suffix -ive is used to form adjectives.

Combative is always used negatively. It implies that the person is being defensive or overly argumentative. It has several synonyms that each have different shades of meaning, including belligerent, quarrelsome, argumentative, and pugnacious.

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What are some other forms related to combative

  • combatively (adverb)

What are some synonyms for combative?

What are some words that share a root or word element with combative

What are some words that often get used in discussing combative?

How is combative used in real life?

Combative is usually used in a negative way to criticize someone for being overly inclined to argue or dispute things.


Try using combative!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of combative?

A. pugnacious
B. belligerent
C. peaceful
D. quarrelsome

How to use combative in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for combative

/ (ˈkɒmbətɪv, ˈkʌm-) /

eager or ready to fight, argue, etc; aggressive

Derived forms of combative

combatively, adverbcombativeness, noun
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