Definition of war noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//wɔː(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//wɔːr//
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  1. 1  [uncountable, countable] a situation in which two or more countries or groups of people fight against each other over a period of time the Second World War the threat of (a) nuclear war to win/lose a/the war the war between England and Scotland England’s war with/against Scotland It was the year Britain declared war on Germany. Social and political problems led to the outbreak (= the beginning) of war. Where were you living when war broke out? The government does not want to go to war (= start a war) unless all other alternatives have failed. How long have they been at war? a war hero (formal) In the Middle Ages England waged war on France. Her husband was killed during the war. More troops are being despatched to the war zone. (formal) the theatre of war (= the area in which fighting takes place) CollocationsWar and peaceStarting a war declare/​make/​wage war (on somebody/​something) go to war (against/​with somebody) cause/​spark/​provoke/​foment/​quell unrest incite/​lead/​crush/​suppress a revolt/​rebellion launch/​mount/​carry out a surprise/​terrorist attack prevent/​halt/​represent an escalation of the conflict be torn apart by/​be on the brink of civil war enter/​invade/​occupy somebody’s territory lead/​launch/​resist/​repel an invasionMilitary operations adopt/​develop/​implement/​pursue a military strategy carry out/​execute/​perform military operations/​manoeuvres/(especially US English) maneuvers send/​deploy/​station/​pull back/​withdraw troops go on/​fly/​carry out a reconnaissance/​rescue mission train/​equip/​deploy army/​military/​combat units lead/​launch/​conduct a raid/​a surprise attack/​an (air/​airborne/​amphibious) assault (on somebody) employ/​use guerrilla tactics conduct/​wage biological/​guerrilla warfare fight/​crush/​defeat the rebels/​the insurgency suffer/​inflict a crushing defeat achieve/​win a decisive victory halt/​stop the British/​German/​Russian advance order/​force a retreatFighting join/​serve in the army/​navy/​air force be/​go/​remain/​serve on active duty serve/​complete/​return from a tour of duty be sent to the front (line) attack/​strike/​engage/​defeat/​kill/​destroy the enemy see/​report/​be engaged in heavy fighting call for/​be met with armed resistance come under heavy/​machine-gun/​mortar fire fire a machine-gun/​mortar shells/​rockets (at somebody/​something) shoot a rifle/​a pistol/​bullets/​missiles launch/​fire a cruise/​ballistic/​anti-tank missile use biological/​chemical/​nuclear weapons inflict/​suffer/​sustain heavy losses/​casualties be hit/​killed by enemy/​friendly/​artillery fire become/​be held as a prisoner of warCivilians in war harm/​kill/​target/​protect innocent/​unarmed civilians cause/​avoid/​limit/​minimize civilian casualties/​collateral damage impose/​enforce/​lift a curfew engage in/​be a victim of ethnic cleansing be sent to an internment/​a concentration camp accept/​house/​resettle refugees fleeing from war fear/​threaten military/​violent reprisals commit/​be accused of war crimes/​crimes against humanity/​genocideMaking peace make/​bring/​win/​achieve/​maintain/​promote peace call for/​negotiate/​broker/​declare a ceasefire/​a temporary truce sign a ceasefire agreement call for/​bring/​put an end to hostilities demand/​negotiate/​accept the surrender of somebody/​something establish/​send (in) a peacekeeping force negotiate/​conclude/​ratify/​sign/​accept/​reject/​break/​violate a peace treaty Wordfinderaggression, arms, army, attack, casualty, conflict, defend, hostile, territory, war see also civil war, cold war, council of war, phoney war, post-war, prisoner of war, warring, world war See related entries: Conflict
  2. 2  [countable, uncountable] a situation in which there is aggressive competition between groups, companies, countries, etc. the class war a trade war see also price war
  3. 3  [uncountable, singular] war (against/on somebody/something) a fight or an effort over a long period of time to get rid of or stop something unpleasant The government has declared war on drug dealers. We seem to be winning the war against crime. Synonymscampaignbattle struggle drive war fightThese are all words for an effort made to achieve or prevent something.campaign a series of planned activities that are intended to achieve a particular social, commercial or political aim:the campaign for parliamentary reform an advertising campaign battle a competition or argument between people or groups of people trying to win power or control:She finally won the legal battle for compensation. the endless battle between man and naturestruggle a competition or argument between people or groups of people trying to win power or control:the struggle for independence the struggle between good and evilbattle or struggle?A struggle is always about things that seem absolutely necessary, such as life and death or freedom. A battle can also be about things that are not absolutely necessary, just desirable, or about the pleasure of winning:the battle/​struggle between good and evil a legal struggle for compensation a struggle of wills/​ an organized effort by a group of people to achieve something:the drive for greater efficiency a drive to reduce energy consumptioncampaign or drive?A campaign is usually aimed at getting other people to do something; a drive may be an attempt by people to get themselves to do something:From today, we’re going on an economy drive(= we must spend less). A campaign may be larger, more formal and more organized than a drive.war [sing.] an effort over a long period of time to get rid of or stop something bad:the war against crimefight [sing.] the work of trying to stop or prevent something bad or achieve something good; an act of competing, especially in a sport:Workers won their fight to stop compulsory redundancies.war or fight? A war is about stopping things, like drugs and crime, that everyone agrees are bad. A fight can be about achieving justice for yourself. Patterns a campaign/​battle/​struggle/​drive/​war/​fight against something a campaign/​battle/​struggle/​drive/​fight for something a one-man/​one-woman/​personal campaign/​battle/​struggle/​war a bitter campaign/​battle/​struggle/​drive/​war/​fight to launch/​embark on a campaign/​battle/​drive to lead/​continue the campaign/​battle/​struggle/​drive/​fight to win/​lose a battle/​struggle/​war/​fight
  4. Word Origin late Old English werre, from an Anglo-Norman French variant of Old French guerre, from a Germanic base shared by worse.Extra examples Both candidates have distinguished war records. Congress has made a formal declaration of war. Every available resource went towards the war effort. He fears the violence could spark a civil war. He took part in the Vietnam War. He was held as a prisoner of war. He was wounded twice during the course of the war. In times of war, troops were billeted in the mill. My grandfather fought in the Korean War. My grandfather fought in two world wars. Six years of total war had left no citizen untouched. The Spartans were persuaded to make war on Athens. The US declared war on Japan. The United States entered the war in 1917. The army had been placed on a war footing. The country had just emerged from the horrors of civil war. The country has long been a theatre/​theater of war. The country was now in a state of war. The country went to war in 1914. The crisis took Europe to the brink of war. The government has a $20-billion war chest to fight terrorism. The outcome of the war was far from certain. The terrorists were charged with waging war against the state. The two countries fought a short but bloody war. The war raged for nearly two years. These aircraft are designed to take troops and weapons to any theatre of war in the shortest time possible. They launched a trade war against France. Unexploded mines were a big danger to civilians in the aftermath of the war. a country at war a trade war with the United States a war against drug abuse a war of liberation critiques of the mainstream media’s war coverage killed in war talks to prevent the war from escalating the Greek war for independence the Soviet war machine the shortage of food during the war years the war against the French the war correspondent of a daily newspaper war between Iran and Iraq During the First World War, Flanders was transformed into one huge battlefield. Edgehill was the first battle in the English Civil War. The US threatened a trade war with Europe after the breakdown of the talks. The USA declared war on Germany in 1917. The country seemed at times to be close to class war. The two countries were at war for eight years. When war broke out he became separated from his family.Idioms
    all’s fair in love and war
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    (saying) in some situations any type of behaviour is acceptable to get what you want
    (informal) to have been injured in a fight or an accident You look like you've been in the wars—who gave you that black eye? an attempt to defeat your opponents by putting pressure on them so that they lose courage or confidence a bitter argument or disagreement over a period of time between two or more people or groups the political war of words over tax
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: war