use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

con·flict (kŏnflĭkt)
Share:
n.
1. A state of open, often prolonged fighting; a battle or war.
2. A state of disagreement or disharmony between persons or ideas; a clash: a conflict over water rights.
3. Psychology An emotional or mental disturbance resulting from the opposition or simultaneous functioning of mutually exclusive impulses, desires, or tendencies.
4. Opposition between characters or forces in a work of drama or fiction, especially when motivating or shaping the action of the plot.
intr.v. (kən-flĭkt) con·flict·ed, con·flict·ing, con·flicts
1. To be in or come into opposition; differ.
2. Archaic To engage in warfare.

[Middle English, from Latin cōnflīctus, collision, from past participle of cōnflīgere, to strike together : com-, com- + flīgere, to strike.]

con·fliction n.
con·flictive adj.
con·flictu·al (kən-flĭkch-əl) adj.

Synonyms: conflict, discord, strife, contention, dissension, clash
These nouns refer to a state of disagreement and disharmony. Conflict has the broadest application: a conflict of interests; a conflict between the demands of work and family.
Discord is a lack of harmony often marked by bickering and antipathy: The summit was marred by discord among the leaders.
Strife usually implies an open struggle, often destructive, between rivals or factions: "Your eye is then drawn to the scene below, down to the valley below, where everywhere are the ravages of famine, the drumbeat of war, a world groaning under strife and deprivation" (Barack Obama).
Contention suggests a dispute in the form of heated debate or quarreling: During the debate, we expect lively contention among the candidates.
Dissension implies difference of opinion that disrupts unity within a group: "Dissension had been brewing between the North and South long before the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter" (Ted Yanak & Pam Cornelison).
Clash involves irreconcilable ideas or interests: a clash between tradition and modernity; a clash of egos.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.