Dictionary Shmictionary

Today’s Daily Prompt asked us to write about a word we have used wrongly, because we didn’t know its proper meaning. This inspired me to write about one of the words that always confuses me.

Belligerent. So difficult. When I read belligerent, it is mostly in a context of good guys and bad guys. And to be able to understand the story, it is important to distinguish these guys from each other. And this is exactly what my problem is with belligerent. I never know whether it refers to the bad people or the good people. You can see, it makes understanding the story quite difficult.

I think I know what the problem is. In French or Italian, belle or bella are the feminine adjectives for beautiful. That makes me think of positive, good things. And so I think of people who are on the good side, when I read belligerent.

But I also think that my problem is solved from now on. I just looked up belligerent in the Oxford Dictionary and found out that its origins are late 16th century. The word is derived from the latin verb belligerare, which means waging war. That, I can remember. Whenever I read belligerent in the future, I will think of bellum.  I know it means war, and war is a bad thing and mostly conducted by aggressive and hostile people. That’ll do the trick.

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