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Senior Member
The mayor is confident the war against crime will be won.
He watched the canine warfare with the deepest interest.

The above are from an online dictionary. I tried hard to figure out the different usage between war and warfare but in vain. Are they interchangeable in the above examples? If not, can you tell me their different usage? Thanks.
  • pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    No. You can't win a warfare, only a war. Warfare is the individual acts that make up a war.

    During World War II, the two sides engaged in warfare for several years.

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    War against crime is actually used as a noun (and somewhat of a verb) here. I know this seems confusing and it would be to me as well.

    One could literally have "war against crime" and it would be a verb in the sense that you are "warring crime".
    But this is also a title of sorts. In the 80's, the Reagans announced "A War Against Drugs". This was both a verb (to war the buying, selling and use of drugs) as well as a noun because it is the war that pertained to drugs.

    War can really be both a noun and verb in that one sentence. Warfare is emphatically a verb.

    The mayor is confident the war against crime will be won.
    He watched the canine war with the deepest interest. <--- This could be said, however, warfare gives a much clearer sense of the actual act of war (noun). It can also be noted that authors often sway from being redundant with word usage. An author would rather not use the word war in back-to-back sentences.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - England
    Warfare is not countable; war can be countable (two world wars) or not countable (war is bad).

    I think that is the main difference between them: warfare means pretty much the same thing as the uncountable senses of war.
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