casus belli

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ca·sus bel·li

 (kā′səs bĕl′ī, kä′səs bĕl′ē)
n. pl. casus belli
An act or event that provokes or is used to justify war.

[New Latin cāsus bellī : Latin cāsus, occasion + Latin bellī, genitive of bellum, war.]

casus belli

(ˈkɑːsʊs ˈbɛliː)
n, pl casus belli (ˈkɑːsʊs ˈbɛliː)
1. (Military) an event or act used to justify a war
2. the immediate cause of a quarrel
[literally: occasion of war]

ca•sus bel•li

(ˈkeɪ səs ˈbɛl aɪ, ˈbɛl i; Lat. ˈkɑ sʊs ˈbɛl li)

n., pl. ca•sus bel•li (ˈkeɪ səs ˈbɛl aɪ, ˈbɛl i; Lat. ˈkɑ sus ˈbɛl li)
an event or political occurrence that brings about or is used to validate a declaration of war.
[1840–50; < New Latin: literally, occurrence of war]

casus belli

A Latin phrase meaning occasion of war, used to mean a reason or excuse for going to war or beginning a dispute.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.casus belli - an event used to justify starting a war
beginning - the event consisting of the start of something; "the beginning of the war"
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References in periodicals archive ?
The policy portrayed is one of deliberate Israeli acts of provocation, intended to generate Arab hostility and thus to create pretexts for war, armed action and territorial expansion.
Some of the classic US pretexts for war include the "mysterious" sinking of the USS Maine off Cuba in 1898, which outraged the American public and precipitated the Spanish-American War.
Unlike the first Bush administration, when Secretary of State James Baker asserted that the rationale for the Gulf War was to keep the oil flowing to the West ("To sum it up in one word, it's jobs"), this administration decided to stick to antiterrorism and patriotism as its pretexts for war.