Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Idioms, Encyclopedia.


1. A state of open, often prolonged fighting; a battle or war.
2. A state of disagreement or disharmony between persons or ideas; a clash: a conflict over water rights.
3. Psychology An emotional or mental disturbance resulting from the opposition or simultaneous functioning of mutually exclusive impulses, desires, or tendencies.
4. Opposition between characters or forces in a work of drama or fiction, especially when motivating or shaping the action of the plot.
intr.v. (kən-flĭkt′) con·flict·ed, con·flict·ing, con·flicts
1. To be in or come into opposition; differ.
2. Archaic To engage in warfare.

[Middle English, from Latin cōnflīctus, collision, from past participle of cōnflīgere, to strike together : com-, com- + flīgere, to strike.]

con·flic′tion n.
con·flic′tive adj.
con·flic′tu·al (kən-flĭk′cho͞o-əl) adj.
Synonyms: conflict, discord, strife, contention, dissension, clash
These nouns refer to a state of disagreement and disharmony. Conflict has the broadest application: a conflict of interests; a conflict between the demands of work and family.
Discord is a lack of harmony often marked by bickering and antipathy: The summit was marred by discord among the leaders.
Strife usually implies an open struggle, often destructive, between rivals or factions: "Your eye is then drawn to the scene below, down to the valley below, where everywhere are the ravages of famine, the drumbeat of war, a world groaning under strife and deprivation" (Barack Obama).
Contention suggests a dispute in the form of heated debate or quarreling: During the debate, we expect lively contention among the candidates.
Dissension implies difference of opinion that disrupts unity within a group: "Dissension had been brewing between the North and South long before the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter" (Ted Yanak & Pam Cornelison).
Clash involves irreconcilable ideas or interests: a clash between tradition and modernity; a clash of egos.
References in periodicals archive ?
Such political ethnicity discourses that unleashed a highly conflictive potential in the transition era (especially in KwaZulu-Natal) do not feature in the study.
But the EU has clearly demonstrated that its incidence can be reduced by exponentially increasing the opportunity cost of conflictive dynamics.
It's won back what I believe football is, linking effectiveness with beauty and winning games, and showing that these things aren't conflictive.
Israel sees its enemies creating a new 'hot border' in Syria alongside its conflictive frontier with Lebanon.
The book is written for individuals who lack a model for equal partnership, as well as couples who need to remodel a conflictive situation into a working relationship.
Conflictive parenting is strongly associated with personality disorders in offspring.
She suggests that the lessons we learn from such conflicts, arising out of "multiple and conflictive worldviews," can help us to cure current and future wounds.
IR scholarship, including the rationalist school that the editors likely have in mind when criticizing "realism and interventionism" (3), looks at hegemonic relations not necessarily as conflictive since cooperation is precisely the instrument through which persuasion and consent are achieved.
It is expected that the complex transformation to a federal state will lead to a drawn out, highly conflictive negotiation process.
On the other hand, agonistic initiatives that discard consensus in favor of conflictive engagement with institutions of state rule can allow for pluralism and the acceptance of difference.
Those often present a resilient and ambivalent character: they precipitate the past into the present, but they do so in conflictive, not always evident ways.