Meaning of “war” in the English Dictionary

british dictionary

"war" in British English

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warnoun [ C or U ]

uk /wɔːr/ us /wɔːr/

A2 armed fighting between two or more countries or groups, or a particular example of this:

If this country goes to (= starts to fight in a) war we will have to face the fact that many people will die.
Britain and France declared war on Germany in 1939 as a result of the invasion of Poland.
War broke out between the two countries after a border dispute.
They've been at war for the last five years.
He died in the First World War/the Vietnam war.
war of attrition

a war that is fought over a long period and only ends when one side has neither the soldiers and equipment nor the determination left to continue fighting

war of nerves

a situation, often before a competition or battle, in which each opposing side attempts to frighten or discourage the other by making threats or by showing how strong it is

C2 any situation in which there is strong competition between opposing sides or a great fight against something harmful:

The past few months have witnessed a price war between leading supermarkets.
The president vowed to wage / war on/against terrorism.
the war on drugs

More examples

  • The war has claimed thousands of lives.
  • The prime minister is to meet his European counterparts to discuss the war against drugs.
  • America declared war on Japan in 1941.
  • There is likely to be civil war if the region tries to secede from the south.
  • The number of casualties was appallingly high in both wars.

(Definition of “war” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"war" in American English

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warnoun [ C/U ]

us /wɔr/

armed fighting between two or more countries or groups, or a particular example of such fighting:

[ C ] Can any country fight two wars at the same time?
[ U ] War is something to avoid.
[ U ] Several nations were at war.

A war can also be any situation in which there is strong competition between opposing sides or a joint effort against something harmful:

[ C ] Airlines engage in fare wars to attract new customers.
[ U ] It sometimes seems like the war on cancer has stalled.

(Definition of “war” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"war" in Business English

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warnoun [ C ]

uk /wɔːr/ us COMMERCE, ECONOMICS

a situation in which businesses, countries, etc. compete against each other very strongly:

In the supermarket war, Asda slashed the price of petrol.
at war The banks are at war for each other's business accounts.
lose/wage/win a war The EU is in danger of losing the propaganda war.

(Definition of “war” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)