27 Idioms for War


Just as battles have their own unique language, idioms related to war add depth to our conversations.

In this article, we’ll break down the meanings behind these expressions and show you how they are used in everyday language. So, get ready to navigate the battlefield of idioms!

idioms for war

What is an idiom for War?

Idioms are like secret codes in language. They’re phrases that have hidden meanings beyond the words themselves.

War idioms often use battle-related terms to describe different situations in life. Let’s explore the meaning behind each of the idioms in our list and see how they can be applied:


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Created by Dr. Julia Rossi

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What does the idiom “break the ice” mean?

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“Out of the frying pan into the fire” is an example of:

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The abbreviation “NASA” stands for:

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IdiomMeaningIn a Sentence
Declare WarExpress strong opposition or hostilityWhen her trust was betrayed, she declared war on their friendship.
Go to WarEngage in a conflict, literal or metaphoricalThe two companies went to war over the patent rights.
All’s Fair in Love and WarIn challenging situations, all strategies are acceptableHe used every trick in the book, believing that all’s fair in love and war.
War of WordsAn argument involving strong verbal confrontationsThe political debate turned into a heated war of words.
War of NervesPeople try to make each other nervous or anxiousThe tense standoff between negotiators became a war of nerves.
War of AttritionProlonged struggle, wearing down through continuous pressureThe labor strike turned into a war of attrition.
Declare a CeasefireStop a conflict temporarily or agree to a truceAfter hours of arguing, the siblings declared a ceasefire.
Call to ArmsAsk for support or action in times of crisisThe community leaders issued a call to arms for disaster relief efforts.
Drop the BombReveal shocking or surprising informationDuring the meeting, she dropped the bomb about the company’s bankruptcy.
Battle of WitsCompetition of intelligence or clevernessThe debate became a battle of wits among the students.
War ChestReserve of resources, often financial, for a specific purposeThe candidate used his war chest to fund his campaign.
War MachinePowerful, well-organized military forceThe nation possessed a formidable war machine.
War RoomPlace for making important decisionsThe crisis management team met in the war room to plan their response.
War TornHeavily affected by war, often with destructionThe documentary portrayed the struggles of people in war-torn regions.
War CryFierce shout or slogan used before or during battleSoldiers raised their war cry as they charged into battle.
WarhorseExperienced and reliable personShe’s the warhorse of the team, having faced numerous obstacles.
WarpathDetermined and aggressive courseAfter the betrayal, he was on the warpath to confront the responsible party.
War FootingState of readiness for war or significant challengeThe military was on a war footing, prepared for any threat.
War of WillsConflict of determination and perseveranceTheir ongoing legal battle turned into a war of wills.
War CrimeViolation of war laws, often involving inhumane actsThe international court prosecuted those responsible for war crimes.
War CorrespondentJournalist covering wars and conflictsThe war correspondent risked her life to report from the battlefield.
War EffortCombined actions and contributions during warThe entire country united in the war effort during World War II.
War ZoneHeavily affected by war, often dangerous and unstableJournalists provide aid in war zones, facing great risks.
War GamesSimulated military exercises or strategic gamesThe military conducts war games to improve tactics.
War of the RosesHistorical conflict in England between Lancaster and YorkThe War of the Roses resulted in significant changes in English history.
War of IndependenceStruggle for a nation or group to gain independenceThe American War of Independence led to the birth of the United States.
War on TerrorGlobal campaign to combat terrorismThe War on Terror brought about changes in international security policies.

War is like a raging wildfire, consuming everything in its path with destructive fury. For more comparisons to describe war, you can check this link: Similes for war. And for a variety of metaphors related to war, you can explore this link: Metaphors for war.

Idioms for War

1. Declare War

Meaning: To openly express strong opposition or hostility towards someone or something.

In a Sentence: When she found out her friend had betrayed her trust, she declared war on their friendship.

2. Go to War

Meaning: To engage in a conflict or battle, either literally or metaphorically.

In a Sentence: The two companies went to war over the rights to the patent, resulting in a lengthy legal battle.

3. All’s Fair in Love and War

Meaning: In challenging or competitive situations, all strategies, even unconventional ones, are considered acceptable.

In a Sentence: He used every trick in the book to win the chess match, believing that all’s fair in love and war.

4. War of Words

Meaning: An argument or conflict involving strong, verbal confrontations.

In a Sentence: The political debate turned into a heated war of words as the candidates clashed over their policies.

5. War of Nerves

Meaning: A situation where people try to make each other nervous or anxious.

In a Sentence: The tense standoff between the negotiators became a real war of nerves as they struggled to reach an agreement.

6. War of Attrition

Meaning: A prolonged struggle where each side tries to wear down the other through continuous pressure or small attacks.

In a Sentence: The labor strike turned into a war of attrition, with neither the workers nor the management willing to give in.

7. Declare a Ceasefire

Meaning: To stop a conflict temporarily or agree to a truce.

In a Sentence: After hours of arguing, the siblings finally declared a ceasefire and decided to discuss the matter later.

8. Call to Arms

Meaning: To ask for support or action, often in times of crisis or emergency.

In a Sentence: The community leaders issued a call to arms, urging residents to volunteer for disaster relief efforts.

9. Drop the Bomb

Meaning: To reveal shocking or surprising information.

In a Sentence: During the meeting, she dropped the bomb that the company was facing bankruptcy.

10. Battle of Wits

Meaning: A competition or conflict of intelligence or cleverness.

In a Sentence: The debate turned into a battle of wits as the students presented their arguments in a school competition.

11. War Chest

Meaning: A reserve of resources, often financial, set aside for a specific purpose or campaign.

In a Sentence: The political candidate used his war chest to fund his election campaign.

12. War Machine

Meaning: A powerful and well-organized military force.

In a Sentence: The nation had a formidable war machine, capable of defending its borders against any threat.

13. War Room

Meaning: A place where important decisions are made, typically in a strategic or crisis situation.

In a Sentence: The crisis management team gathered in the war room to plan their response to the natural disaster.

14. War Torn

Meaning: A place that has experienced significant destruction and suffering due to war.

In a Sentence: The documentary showcased the struggles of people living in war-torn regions, highlighting the need for humanitarian aid.

15. War Cry

Meaning: A loud and fierce shout or slogan used by a group before or during battle.

In a Sentence: The soldiers raised their war cry as they charged into battle, boosting their morale.

16. Warhorse

Meaning: An experienced and reliable person who has been through many challenges.

In a Sentence: She’s the warhorse of the team, having faced numerous obstacles during her career.

17. Warpath

Meaning: To be on a determined and aggressive course, often seeking revenge or conflict.

In a Sentence: After discovering the betrayal, he was on the warpath, determined to confront the person responsible.

18. War Footing

Meaning: Being in a state of readiness for war or preparedness for a significant challenge.

In a Sentence: The country’s military was on a war footing, prepared to respond swiftly to any external threat.

19. War of Wills

Meaning: A conflict or competition of determination and perseverance.

In a Sentence: Their ongoing legal battle turned into a war of wills, with both parties refusing to back down.

20. War Crime

Meaning: A violation of the laws and conventions of war, often involving inhumane acts.

In a Sentence: The international court prosecuted those responsible for war crimes committed during the conflict, seeking justice.

21. War Correspondent

Meaning: A journalist or reporter who covers and reports on wars and conflicts.

In a Sentence: The war correspondent risked her life to bring firsthand accounts of the battlefield to the world.

22. War Effort

Meaning: The combined actions and contributions made by a nation or group during a time of war.

In a Sentence: During World War II, the entire country united in the war effort, conserving resources and supporting the troops.

23. War Zone

Meaning: An area heavily affected by war, often dangerous and unstable.

In a Sentence: Journalists and humanitarian organizations provide aid in war zones, often facing great risks to help those in need.

24. War Games

Meaning: Simulated military exercises or strategic games.

In a Sentence: The military conducted war games to test their readiness for various scenarios and improve their tactics.

25. War of the Roses

Meaning: A historical conflict in England between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, symbolized by white and red roses.

In a Sentence: The War of the Roses was a series of civil wars that lasted for several decades, leading to significant changes in English history.

26. War of Independence

Meaning: A struggle by a nation or group to gain independence from a ruling power.

In a Sentence: The American War of Independence, also known as the Revolutionary War, led to the birth of the United States as an independent nation.

27. War on Terror

Meaning: A global campaign to combat terrorism, often associated with the response to the September 11 attacks.

In a Sentence: The War on Terror brought about significant changes in international security policies, with nations cooperating to prevent acts of terrorism.

Quizzes About The Idioms in The Article

Quiz 1: Declare War

  1. What does the idiom “Declare War” mean?
    • a. To declare peace
    • b. To openly express strong opposition or hostility
    • c. To declare a truce
  2. In which sentence is the idiom “Declare War” correctly used?
    • a. They decided to declare war and work together on the project.
    • b. After the argument, they declared war on their friendship.
    • c. She wanted to declare war on the upcoming exam.

Quiz 2: All’s Fair in Love and War

  1. What is the meaning of “All’s Fair in Love and War”?
    • a. Everything is fair in love.
    • b. In challenging situations, all strategies are considered acceptable.
    • c. Only love is fair.
  2. Choose the correct sentence using the idiom “All’s Fair in Love and War”:
    • a. All’s fair in love, but not in war.
    • b. In the business world, all’s fair in love and war.
    • c. They believed that all’s fair in love, but not in war.

Quiz 3: War of Attrition

  1. What does “War of Attrition” mean?
    • a. A swift and decisive battle
    • b. A prolonged struggle where each side wears down the other through continuous pressure
    • c. A diplomatic negotiation
  2. In which sentence is the idiom “War of Attrition” correctly used?
    • a. The soccer match turned into a war of attrition as both teams scored quickly.
    • b. The labor strike became a war of attrition, with neither side giving in.
    • c. The students engaged in a war of attrition during the spelling bee.

Quiz 4: War Cry

  1. What is the meaning of “War Cry”?
    • a. A battle strategy
    • b. A loud and fierce shout or slogan used in a conflict
    • c. A peaceful declaration
  2. Identify the correct usage of the idiom “War Cry”:
    • a. The children raised a war cry while playing in the park.
    • b. The meeting ended with a war cry for unity.
    • c. The orchestra’s performance was a war cry of harmony.

Quiz 5: War Room

  1. What does the idiom “War Room” mean?
    • a. A room for peaceful negotiations
    • b. A place where important decisions are made, typically during a crisis or strategic situation
    • c. A room for storing war equipment
  2. Choose the correct sentence using the idiom “War Room”:
    • a. The war room was filled with peaceful discussions about global conflicts.
    • b. The leaders gathered in the war room to plan their response to the natural disaster.
    • c. The war room was used for storing weapons during the battle.

These quizzes will test your understanding of the war-related idioms discussed in the article. Enjoy the challenge!

Conclusion

War idioms might have originated from the battlefield, but they have found their place in our everyday language. These expressions add depth and color to our conversations, allowing us to describe complex situations with simple phrases.

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