If I'm writing a sentence such as

"The second World War was the single most wasteful and (Costing a large number of lives/ having a high death toll) war in the History of Mankind.

What single word/phrase can I use to convey the ideas in the bracketed portion.

  • 2
    Don't try and use a single word. Don't use wasteful, either. That's inappropriately funny and does not mean what you want it to mean. And never Capitalize random Words in the Middle Of sentences. – RegDwigнt Jul 25 at 9:07
  • heavy casualty? – JustTolerateMe Jul 25 at 10:37
  • Can you elaborate; how wasteful can be taken as disrespectful ? I would like to understand. The context which I meant was "The second world war was wasteful (in terms of resources)" – Vigneswara Prabhu Jul 31 at 12:38

Deadly would fit quite well.


  1. Causing or tending to cause death

It is used in similar situations:

The Rwandan genocide likewise ended with a military solution, in this case a Tutsi victory. (But this became the seed for the most deadly war on earth since 1945, the Congo War of 1998 -- 2006.) (Game Theory (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy))

Vietnam veterans Antonio Porres and Frankie Infante also enlisted together, fought the length of that deadly war and miraculously returned intact. ( Houston Chronicle , LORI RODRIGUEZ, HOMES VS. HERITAGE;; The relationship between a subdivision and a cemetery is side-by-side but hardly eye-to-eye)

OUR COUNTRY HAS BEEN AT WAR on two fronts, but only the war abroad was declared. It is time for you and me to make our leaders confront the equally deadly war raging in our cities, towns, and rural and suburban areas, which poses as much of a threat to the nation's security and economic prosperity as any foreign enemy. # Every time a cruise missile landed and each time an AWACS plane took off in the Persian Gulf, it was hard to restrain myself from shouting: " My God, how many Head Start slots was that? How much money in housing for homeless children could have been provided?" (Mother Jones, Edelman, M.W., Kids first! (cover story), Vol. 16 Issue 3, p31)

| improve this answer | |

"Fatal," "lethal," "destructive," "death-dealing," "mortal," "murderous," "homicidal," "bloody," and many others would work in this situation.

These are the applicable definitions of the words I listed above:

All of the following definitions are from [Lexico]

Fatal - "Causing death."

Lethal - "Harmful or destructive."

Destructive - "Causing great and irreparable harm or damage."

Death-dealing - "Capable of causing death."

Mortal - "Causing or liable to cause death; fatal." OR "(of a battle) fought to the death."

Murderous - "(of an action, event, or plan) involving murder or extreme violence."

Homicidal - "Capable of or tending toward murder; murderous."

Bloody - "Involving or characterized by bloodshed or cruelty."

There are many other words that could be applied to this situation. Run any of these words through a thesaurus and you will find many alternatives. Also, the use of the word "wasteful" is disrespectful in this context; you should remove/replace it.

| improve this answer | |
  • Can you elaborate; how wasteful can be taken as disrespectful ? I would like to understand. The context which I meant was "The second world war was wasteful (in terms of resources)" – Vigneswara Prabhu Jul 31 at 12:36
  • @VigneswaraPrabhu As you said, wasteful is used chiefly in terms of resources. Instead of talking about the wasted resources, you should maybe choose a word that describes the magnitude of the war. It is disrespectful because you are talking about wasting resources in the same breath as the millions of lives that were ended during the war. Personally, I wouldn't talk about the "waste" of WW2 anywhere near the fatalities. – John B. Jul 31 at 14:35
  • @VigneswaraPrabhu Was the rest of my answer satisfactory? If so, please upvote and accept it. Otherwise, I'd be glad to find some other words if the ones I provided don't work. – John B. Aug 1 at 6:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.