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I know that "wage war" is an idiomatic expression that the American Heritage Dictionary defines as:

To engage in (a war or campaign, for example).

and Dictionary.com defines as:

to carry on (a battle, war, conflict, argument, etc.): to wage war against a nation.

My question is: does "wage war" mean also 'declare war" or does it refer only to the development of war operations? (Sorry but I have this doubt).

closed as off-topic by Kristina Lopez, Drew, jimm101, Hellion, user140086 Feb 16 '16 at 5:33

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    No, you can wage an undeclared war, and you can declare a war but never actually wage it. – Hellion Feb 15 '16 at 17:51
  • @Hellion - thanks, but could "wage" be synonymous with "declare" or it just means something different? – user240918 Feb 15 '16 at 18:24
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    To "wage war" means to engage in or to prosecute war. The relevant meaning that Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary gives is "to engage in or carry on." To "declare war" is simply to put an end to the normal, assumed state of peace between the declaring country and its enemy, by announcing an intention to begin armed hostilities (that is, war) against it. – Sven Yargs Feb 15 '16 at 18:53
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    Examples: With the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan began to Wage [undeclared] War on the United States. Three days after Germany invaded Poland in in 1939, Great Britain declared war on Germany. However, GB did not begin to wage war (commence actual fighting) until much later. – mickeyf Feb 16 '16 at 4:15
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    This is a better fit for ELL, where it has already been well answered. – AndyT Feb 16 '16 at 15:54
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To "declare war" is official and publicly announce that you are starting a war.

To "wage war" is to actively engage or participate in warfare, usually after it's already been declared.

So no, "wage war" is not synonymous with "declare war".


Google's definition for Declare:

say something in a solemn and emphatic manner.

"he declared that he never revises his prose"

Google's definition for Wage:

carry on (a war or campaign).

"it is necessary to destroy their capacity to wage war"

  • This doesn't always refer to actual war between countries. Here is an example: "The government is doing all it can to wage war on dangerous driving." From what I know, it is used more metaphorically. – george Jul 31 '18 at 18:56

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