View synonyms for war



[ wawr ]


  1. a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation; warfare, as by land, sea, or air.
  2. a state or period of armed hostility or active military operations:

    The two nations were at war with each other.

  3. a contest carried on by force of arms, as in a series of battles or campaigns:

    the War of 1812.

  4. armed fighting, as a science, profession, activity, or art; methods or principles of waging armed conflict:

    War is the soldier's business.

  5. active hostility or contention; conflict; contest:

    a war of words.

  6. aggressive business conflict, as through severe price cutting in the same industry or any other means of undermining competitors:

    a fare war among airlines; a trade war between nations.

  7. a struggle to achieve a goal:

    the war on cancer;

    a war against poverty;

    a war for hearts and minds.

  8. Cards.
    1. a game for two or more persons, played with a 52-card pack evenly divided between the players, in which each player turns up one card at a time with the higher card taking the lower, and in which, when both turned up cards match, each player lays one card face down and turns up another, the player with the higher card of the second turn taking all the cards laid down.
    2. an occasion in this game when both turned up cards match.
  9. Archaic. a battle.

verb (used without object)

, warred, war·ring.
  1. to make or carry on war; fight:

    to war with a neighboring nation.

  2. to carry on active hostility or contention:

    Throughout her life she warred with sin and corruption.

  3. to be in conflict or in a state of strong opposition:

    The temptation warred with his conscience.


  1. of, belonging to, used in, or due to war:

    war preparations; war hysteria.



[ wahr ]


, Scot. and North England.
  1. worse.



abbreviation for

  1. warrant.



abbreviation for

  1. Warwickshire



/ wɔː /


  1. open armed conflict between two or more parties, nations, or states belligerentmartial
  2. a particular armed conflict

    the 1973 war in the Middle East

  3. the techniques of armed conflict as a study, science, or profession
  4. any conflict or contest

    a war of wits

    the war against crime

  5. modifier of, relating to, resulting from, or characteristic of war

    a war story

    war damage

    a war hero

  6. to have had a good war
    to have made the most of the opportunities presented to one during wartime
  7. in the wars informal.
    (esp of a child) hurt or knocked about, esp as a result of quarrelling and fighting


  1. intr to conduct a war
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Word History and Origins

Origin of war1

First recorded before 1150; Middle English noun wer(re), war(re), late Old English werre, wyrre, from Old North French wer(r)e, waire, from Old Frankish werra (unrecorded), from Germanic; cognate with Old High German werra, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch werre “strife, discord”; verb derivative of the noun; akin to war 2, worse

Origin of war2

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English wer(re), war(re), from Old Norse verri worse
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Word History and Origins

Origin of war1

C12: from Old Northern French werre (variant of Old French guerre ), of Germanic origin; related to Old High German werra
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Idioms and Phrases

  • all's fair in love and war
  • at war
  • been to the wars
  • declare war
  • tug of war
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Example Sentences

They are, to say the least, preparing for civil war (the polling stations are stormed by armed gangs).

But what is there more irresponsible than playing with the fire of an imagined civil war in the France of today?

Cold War fears could be manipulated through misleading art to attract readers to daunting material.

Kennedy: "Mankind must put an end to war — or war will put an end to mankind."

It is not a decisive war, with a single, signature victory, but a war of attrition.

He distinguished himself in several campaigns, especially in the Peninsular war, and was raised to the rank of field marshal.

His 6,000 native auxiliaries (as it proved later on) could not be relied upon in a civil war.

"There is no more war," Brion translated for Ulv, realizing that the Disan had understood nothing of the explanation.

I cannot reconcile the idea of a tender Heavenly Father with the known horrors of war, slavery, pestilence, and insanity.

We were now masters of the whole country, and the war was apparently at an end.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.