1. Inclined or eager to fight; hostile or aggressive.
2. Of, pertaining to, or engaged in warfare.
One that is hostile or aggressive, especially one that is engaged in war.
[Latin belligerāns, belligerant-, present participle of belligerāre, to wage war, from belliger, warlike : bellum, war + gerere, to make.]
Synonyms: belligerent, bellicose, pugnacious, combative
These adjectives mean having or showing an eagerness to fight. Belligerent refers to a tendency to hostile behavior: A belligerent reporter badgered the politician.
Bellicose describes a warlike or hostile manner or temperament: "Madison, far from being pushed into war by a bellicose Congress, had to drag his own hesitant party into it" (Garry Wills).
Pugnacious suggests a natural disposition to fight: A good litigator needs a pugnacious intellect.
Combative implies an eagerness to fight or resist: The senator made a combative defense of his record during the debate.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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:
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.