[ wawr ]
See synonyms for war on Thesaurus.com
  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.

  1. a contest carried on by force of arms, as in a series of battles or campaigns: the War of 1812.

  2. armed fighting, as a science, profession, activity, or art; methods or principles of waging armed conflict: War is the soldier's business.

  3. active hostility or contention; conflict; contest: a war of words.

  4. 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.

  5. a struggle to achieve a goal: the war on cancer;a war against poverty;a war for hearts and minds.

  6. Cards.

    • 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.

    • an occasion in this game when both turned up cards match.

  7. 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.

  1. 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.

Origin of war

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 war2, worse

Words that may be confused with war

Words Nearby war

Other definitions for war (2 of 3)

[ wahr ]

adjective, adverbScot. and North England.
  1. worse.

Origin of war

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

Other definitions for war. (3 of 3)


  1. warrant.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use war in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for war (1 of 2)


/ (wɔː) /

  1. open armed conflict between two or more parties, nations, or states: Related adjectives: belligerent, martial

  2. a particular armed conflict: the 1973 war in the Middle East

  1. the techniques of armed conflict as a study, science, or profession

  2. any conflict or contest: a war of wits; the war against crime

  3. (modifier) of, relating to, resulting from, or characteristic of war: a war hero; war damage; a war story

  4. to have had a good war to have made the most of the opportunities presented to one during wartime

  5. in the wars informal (esp of a child) hurt or knocked about, esp as a result of quarrelling and fighting

verbwars, warring or warred
  1. (intr) to conduct a war

Origin of war

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

British Dictionary definitions for War. (2 of 2)


abbreviation for
  1. Warwickshire

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with war


In addition to the idioms beginning with war

  • ward off
  • war horse
  • war of nerves

also see:

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

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