I'm looking for a word that means "prepared for conflict" in any language but would prefer one in English or French or French etymology.

I've been struggling with this for a while now, and can't seem to find a term that fits the bill. I realize this might not be the best place to ask this question, but I've often found good answers on this forum.

Central to my dilemma is the following:

pacifist: Someone who opposes war or violence as a means of settling disputes

pacifism: Opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes

And Antonyms:

bellicist: One who advocates war —opposed to pacifist

bellicism: An inclination to war; warlike policy or behavior. (not available at Merriam Webster so wiktionary will have to do)

I can find no equivalent terms that indicate:

???: Someone who is not opposed to war or violence as a solution and recognizes that both peace and violence require preparation

???: An inclination towards neither war nor diplomacy but a willingness to use either when appropriate

Some people have suggested that there is no term for this point of view because it is the "normal" outlook. However, I argue that while the "normal" outlook might be not to favor peace or violence, the outcome is usually to ignore the subject entirely - not to prepare for either or both. So I'm hoping for a different answer here.

For instance, the President of the United States should be primarily skilled at politics, diplomacy, etc. but must be prepared for war in his role as Commander in Chief. While a President may prefer peaceful outcomes, he/she would be unwise to count on peace alone.

  • Welcome to EL&U! That is a well-made and very good question. Please clarify "English or French or French etymology". Should you be looking for a French word, I would suggest asking the question on the French Language Stack Exchange. Dec 19, 2018 at 8:52
  • @ALambentEye Thank you! I'm not really looking for a French word and would prefer an English one if such a word exists. However, I don't think one does, so I will happily take a word from any language. Note, that in my example, "pacifist" is an English word that comes from the mutation of the French word "pacifiste" and bellicist comes from the latin/french word " bellicus/belliciste". Hence my mention of a French word or word with French Etymology.
    – Michael
    Dec 19, 2018 at 20:58

2 Answers 2


What you are looking for is a word mediating between bellicist and pacifist, between hawk and dove. Military preparedness is at least theoretically an independent matter, since only the most radical pacifist would advocate for a complete renunciation of arms:

I want you to fight Nazism without arms, or, if I am to retain the military terminology, with non-violent arms.' I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. Let them take possession of your beautiful island, with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these, but neither your souls, nor your minds. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself, man, woman and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them. — Mahatma Ghandi, “To Every Briton,” Harijan (New Delhi), 6 July 1940.

Think instead of Theodore Roosevelt: “Speak softly but carry a big stick.”

I would suggest war pragmatist. Pragmatism is, of course, Greek in origin, but taken up by virtually every modern language. War is a bit more complicated: it derives from Old North French werre, which in turn comes from a Germanic root. Cf. ModGer verwirren, ‘to confuse, perplex’.

Upon analysis it is clear that the true pragmatists and realists are not the warists who thoughtlessly continue to advocate futile war and consequently, the waste of precious lives and treasure, but the peace advocates who seek an end to quagmire, encourage alternative, non violent solutions to conflicts and differences, support the reallocation of scarce resources, and who demand that we bring our troops home now and hold them close when they get here. — Camillo Mac Bica, “War Pragmatism,” Veterans Today, 27 Nov. 2018.

I oppose the Iraq War. But I refuse to be labeled "anti-war". I'm not. I'm anti this war. Why? Because I'm a war pragmatist. I understand the costs of war, but I also understand the potential benefits. And in a modern world, we need to be able to weigh the two when deciding whether it's worth engaging in combat. — “The War Pragmatists,” Daily Kos, 23 Aug. 2005.

War pragmatist is hardly a frequent expression, but it is a logical nominal derivative of pragmatic approach to war:

Moreover, rather than a rigid, doctrinaire method, Haig learned at Camberley – or more likely had confirmed – an adaptable, empirical, pragmatic approach to war. — Gary Sheffield, The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army, 2011.

Somewhere between “come home, America,” which would lead to isolationism, and intervention in every conflict, there is a pragmatic approach to war that America should consider. — Cal Thomas, Columbus Dispatch (OH), 1 June 2012.

The one major philosophy which is founded on a historical conception, Marxism, is one which is associated with a pragmatic approach to war. Neither support for, nor opposition to, war in general can be a principle for Marxism. — Martin Shaw, The Dialectics of War, 1988.

  • Thank you for your well thought out suggestion! However, I don't think it's quite right. I agree with all of your points when concerning war and militarization, but where it falls down a bit for me, is that you can't really use the term for violent conflict outside of the scope of war. Consider you can say "If Gandhi was mugged on the street, he would not have responded with violence because he was a pacifist." but it doesn't quite make sense to say that "Bob was able to defend himself from a mugging because he was a war pragmatist."
    – Michael
    Dec 19, 2018 at 15:49
  • Additionally, removing the word "war" from "war pragmatist" makes the term pretty generic. You can just as easily say that "Gandhi's views on pacifism where pragmatic, not just ideological, because he was successful in his objectives". PLEASE NOTE: I'm not trying to make any claims here about the philosophy/history but pointing out how the words might be used in a simple example I could think of quickly ;)
    – Michael
    Dec 19, 2018 at 15:57
  • @Michael: You set up the dichotomy pacifist-bellicist, which primarily has to do with war and peace, not random street crime. War pragmatist is a compound word — of course it becomes generic when you slice off the first element. Few compound word wouldn't.
    – KarlG
    Dec 19, 2018 at 16:07
  • I am sorry if I caused any confusion. I understand your point, but the term "pacifist" does include both violence and war in its definition and I was careful to include both in my request. Additionally, I am looking for one word or term (per my subject) and I am looking for a word or term that can be used interchangeably with all types of violence. Unfortunately, I'm limited by my grammar and if I had the ability to easily give you a completely and accurate idea of what the term I am looking -- well I wouldn't be looking for it =)
    – Michael
    Dec 19, 2018 at 17:53
  • +1 I wouldn't have said war pragmatist, but the first thing that came to my mind as a mediation between actions of peace and actions of war was pragmatism (or pragmatist). You do whatever is required in any situation to get results rather than always advocating peace or always advocating war. Dec 20, 2018 at 5:58

DETERRENT Though it is usually referred to things, not people. According to Oxford Living Dictionary: 'A thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from doing something'. According to CollinsCobuild: 'Something that prevents people from doing something by making them afraid of what will happen to them if they do it'.

  • I think it's a good attempt, however, it doesn't really fit the use case I want for the word. My primary objective is to find a term for a philosophy/ideology that is the median between pacifist and bellicist. DETERRENT doesn't really define either of those, but an object or action as you pointed out.
    – Michael
    Dec 19, 2018 at 16:03

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