Definition of belligerent in English:



  • 1Hostile and aggressive.

    ‘the mood at the meeting was belligerent’
    • ‘They were probably all nice people but they acted like caricatures of government bureaucrats: at once belligerent and ignorant, threatening and uninterested, detached and intrusive.’
    • ‘The company has taken a belligerent attitude towards the dispute, refusing to negotiate whilst staff remain on strike.’
    • ‘The kids, especially the boys, are aggressive, belligerent, and rebellious.’
    • ‘A moment later their threatening and belligerent attitude made him realize he and Les were outnumbered and outweighed.’
    • ‘His team has played a particularly belligerent and aggressive brand of cricket, and I think they're the benchmark against which other international cricket teams have judged themselves.’
    • ‘In arguments they are emotionally very aggressive - belligerent, contemptuous, insulting.’
    • ‘He's a good footballer but he's not very aggressive, not very belligerent and I'd like to think that with 20-odd caps he'd be a bit more aggressive than he is.’
    • ‘Aggressive or belligerent behavior would have undermined the objectives of the expedition and could well have proved suicidal.’
    • ‘However, when there is a war, of which our people are much experienced, such a naïve attitude can only be disastrous when confronting a belligerent foe, and can only bring great misery to the defending side.’
    • ‘And I think we do need to hear what they are saying because they act as a restraint to an aggressive or belligerent response’.’
    • ‘Numerous specific shop-floor situations generated anger and easily drifted into aggressive or belligerent acts, either verbal or physical.’
    • ‘In a fight it could be a communication of how aggressive or belligerent or dominant a lobster is.’
    • ‘The Chief Minister's belligerent attitude and his subsequent public utterances justifying his stance have only made matters worse for the Centre.’
    • ‘Such views naturally lead to an ‘aggressive, belligerent foreign policy’, she added.’
    • ‘The country's belligerent veto threats seemed to signal its willingness to force grievous splits in the Security Council.’
    • ‘The government had reason to view him as a representative of vicious, belligerent forces hostile to the West.’
    • ‘Every cut or twist of tire evokes a different feeling, from scary to charming, aggressive to shy, belligerent to just plain worn out.’
    • ‘The rail companies are taking a belligerent attitude towards the disputes.’
    • ‘A belligerent stance was one's only deterrent against other people whose interests were in conflict with one's own.’
    • ‘In combination with the threatening and belligerent attitude of the princes, it did much to fuel the violent anti-émigré attitude of the Legislative Assembly during the autumn of 1791.’
    hostile, aggressive, threatening, antagonistic, pugnacious, bellicose, truculent, confrontational, argumentative, quarrelsome, disputatious, contentious, militant, combative
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    1. 1.1 Engaged in a war or conflict, as recognized by international law.
      ‘a conference of socialists from all belligerent countries’
      • ‘At the same time, given that a belligerent Ireland was judged not to be in a position to defend itself against a German attack, Britain would have had to supply its new ally with arms and men, both of which were scarce.’
      • ‘At first the committee had to work covertly as under the Neutrality Acts an American could lose his citizenship if he fought in the armed forces of a belligerent power.’
      • ‘This framework must recognize the unique threat that terrorists pose to nation-states, yet not grant them the legitimacy accorded to belligerent states.’
      • ‘My current projects include a detailed examination of the origin and history of military commissions and the law of belligerent occupation.’
      • ‘Take also the case of lawful belligerent reprisals (for example, the use of prohibited weapons).’
      • ‘It is based upon the customary international laws of belligerent occupation, including the Hague Regulations.’
      • ‘The IRA's response, the hunger strike campaign, equally proclaimed its determination to assert its belligerent status.’
      • ‘Even between belligerent states, such treaties will not necessarily be suspended; a fortiori, if the conflict is not international, treaty rules will in general continue to apply.’
      • ‘It is widely recognized that access by belligerent groups to the gains from drug production and trafficking contributes to the intensity and prolongation of military conflict.’
      • ‘He also reminds readers that neutral status in wartime runs the risk of attracting contempt from belligerent states.’
      • ‘Historically, when military forces occupied belligerent territory, little how-to guidance existed.’
      • ‘Indeed, this war continued in the wake of ongoing internal conflicts in several of the belligerent nations.’
      • ‘The 1935 act banned munitions exports to belligerents and restricted American travel on belligerent ships.’
      warring, at war, combatant, fighting, battling, contending, conflicting, clashing, quarrelling
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  • A nation or person engaged in war or conflict, as recognized by international law.

    ‘ships and goods captured at sea by a belligerent’
    • ‘Several of the belligerents in the recent war were not parties to this Convention.’
    • ‘In rejecting this challenge, the Court drew the distinction between the common law notion of lawful and unlawful belligerents.’
    • ‘Traditional peacekeeping missions were deployed only when a conflict had ceased and with the consent of the belligerents.’
    • ‘Unlawful belligerents were protected by law when captured, but the government was free to choose either military or law-enforcement methods to deal with them.’
    • ‘Unlawful belligerents are never entitled to the status and protection accorded members of national armed forces.’
    • ‘In cases involving criminal prosecution of unlawful belligerents, this could mean imposing peacetime rules on the collection of evidence.’
    • ‘But naval power can never, by itself, win wars except where either island states, or ones dependent on sea power for survival, are the belligerents, or the conflict itself is for control of an island.’
    • ‘Unlawful belligerents were entitled to legal protection, but the government was free to choose the means of force used against them, as was asserted long after.’
    • ‘At the same time, it must be stressed that under international law, the responsibility for protecting civilians caught up in war or conflict falls on the belligerents.’
    • ‘It should also cancel any existing sales of military equipment to possible belligerents in the war, the organisation said in a statement.’
    • ‘Such ‘popular passions’ were at least as important as political or military calculations in the determination of the belligerents to press on with the war.’
    • ‘The rules of warfare are established by international law with a view to regulating the conduct of belligerents in the course of international armed conflicts.’
    • ‘Military leaders of the belligerents thought that dropping or landing of forces right on the target area was as a rule possible and even necessary when the target area was small.’
    • ‘The laws of the Hague (the laws of war) establish the rights and obligations incumbent on belligerents.’
    • ‘In effect, what the critics of military tribunals would have the President do is turn enemy belligerents over to civilian law enforcement authorities for prosecution.’
    • ‘Perhaps these will provide guidance on other unlawful belligerents as well.’
    • ‘Similar technologies are being applied within the military to subdue belligerents.’
    • ‘The customary laws of war, when adapted for conflict with unlawful belligerents, must always incorporate rules of humanitarian restraint.’
    • ‘Moreover, as against states not parties to an international armed conflict, belligerents enjoy no special privileges and remain bound by general rules of international law.’
    • ‘Why do we hand them this right to be recognised as belligerents, when we do not even understand their war aims?’
    militarist, hawk, jingoist, sabre-rattler, aggressor, provoker, belligerent
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Late 16th century: from Latin belligerant- ‘waging war’, from the verb belligerare, from bellum ‘war’.