TVM034 | 2017-12-01  
A state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country.
‘Japan declared war on Germany’
‘the two countries were at war for the next eight years’
count noun ‘I fought in two wars’

1.1 A state of competition or hostility between different people or groups.
‘she was at war with her parents’
count noun ‘a price war among tour operators’

1.2 A sustained campaign against an undesirable situation or activity.
‘the authorities are waging war against smuggling’
count noun ‘a war on drugs’

[no object]

Engage in a war.
‘small states warred against each another’
figurative ‘conflicting emotions warred within her’


go to war

Declare, begin, or see active service in a war.
‘he joined the RAF before the country went to war’
‘of the four brothers who went to war, only Thomas survived’

go to the wars

archaic Serve as a soldier.
‘I did all I could to dissuade him from going to the wars’

be in the wars

informal Be (or have been) injured.
‘Roebuck continues to be in the wars and suffered a broken jaw’

war clouds

Used to refer to a threatening situation of instability in international relations.
‘the war clouds were looming’

war of attrition

A prolonged period of conflict during which each side seeks to gradually wear down the other by a series of small-scale actions.

war of words

A prolonged, often acrimonious, debate.
‘the political war of words over tax’

war to end all wars

A war, especially the First World War, regarded as making subsequent wars unnecessary.


Late Old English werre, from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French guerre, from a Germanic base shared by worse.
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