AskDefine | Define peaceful

Dictionary Definition

peaceful adj
1 not disturbed by strife or turmoil or war; "a peaceful nation"; "peaceful times"; "a far from peaceful Christmas"; "peaceful sleep" [ant: unpeaceful]
2 peacefully resistant in response to injustice; "passive resistance" [syn: passive]
3 (of groups) not violent or disorderly; "the right of peaceful assembly" [syn: law-abiding]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Not at the war or disturbed by strife or turmoil
  2. motionless and calm; placid
  3. Inclined to peace; peaceable



See also

Extensive Definition

''For other uses, see Peace (disambiguation).
Peace can be a state of harmony or the absence of hostility. "Peace" can also be a non-violent way of life. "Peace" is used to describe the cessation of violent conflict. Peace can mean a state of quiet or tranquility — an absence of disturbance or agitation. Peace can also describe a relationship between any people characterized by respect, justice, and goodwill. Peace can describe calmness, serenity, and silence. This latter understanding of peace can also pertain to an individual's sense of himself or herself, as to be "at peace" with one's own mind.

Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded annually to notable peacemakers and visionaries who have overcome violence, conflict or oppression through their moral leadership, those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between the nations". The prize has often met with controversy, as it is occasionally awarded to people who have formerly sponsored war and violence but who have, through exceptional concessions, helped achieve peace.

Understandings of peace

Many different theories of "peace" exist in the world of peace studies, which involves the study of conflict resolution, disarmament, and cessation of violence. The definition of "peace" can vary with religion, culture, or subject of study.

Peace as the presence of justice

Mahatma Gandhi suggested that if an oppressive society lacks violence, the society is nonetheless not peaceful, because of the injustice of the oppression. Gandhi articulated a vision of peace in which justice is an inherent and necessary aspect; that peace requires not only the absence of violence but also the presence of justice. Galtung described this peace, peace with justice, as "positive peace," because hostility and further violence could no longer flourish in this environment.
During the 1950s and 60s, when Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement carried out various non-violent activities aimed at ending segregation and racial persecution in America, they understood peace as more than just the absence of violence. They observed that while there was not open combat between blacks and whites, there was an unjust system in place in which the government deprived African Americans of equal rights. While some opponents criticized the activists for "disturbing the peace", Martin Luther King observed that "True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice."
Galtung coined the term structural violence to refer to such situations, which although not violent on the surface, harbor systematic oppression and injustice.

Peace and development

One concept or idea that often complements peace studies is development. Economic, cultural, and political development can supposedly take "underdeveloped" nations and peoples out of poverty, thus helping bring about a more peaceful world. As such, many international development agencies carry out projects funded by the governments of industrialized countries, mostly the western, designed to "modernize" poor countries.
The concept of peace has been linked to the wide idea of development, assuming that development is not the classical pursuit of wealth. Peaceful development can be a set of many different elements such as good governance, healthcare, education, gender equality, disaster preparedness, infrastructure, economics, rule of law, human rights, environment and other political issues. The measuring of development uses not only GDP but also numerous measures such as:
In this frame, the problem of peace fully involves the complex matter of human development, what explains the complexity of any peace-building processus.

Democratic peace

Proponents of the democratic peace theory argue that strong empirical evidence exists that democracies never or rarely make war against each other. An increasing number of nations have become democratic since the industrial revolution, and thus, they claim world peace may become possible if this trend continues.

Plural peaces

Following Wolfgang Dietrich, Wolfgang Sützl, and the Innsbruck School of Peace Studies, some "peace thinkers" have abandoned any single and all-encompassing definition of peace. Rather, they promote the idea of many peaces. They argue that since no singular, correct definition of peace can exist, peace should be perceived as a plurality.
For example, in the Great Lakes region of Africa, the word for peace is kindoki, which refers to a harmonious balance between human beings, the rest of the natural world, and the cosmos. This vision is a much broader view of peace than a mere "absence of war" or even a "presence of justice" standard.
These thinkers also critique the idea of peace as a hopeful or eventual end. They recognize that peace does not necessarily have to be something humans might achieve "some day." They contend that peace exists in the present, we can create and expand it in small ways in our everyday lives, and peace changes constantly. This view makes peace permeable and imperfect rather than static and utopian.
Such a view is influenced by postmodernism.

Inner peace

One meaning of peace refers to inner peace, a state of mind, body and mostly soul, a peace within ourselves. People that experience inner peace say that the feeling is not dependent on time, people, place, or any external object or situation, asserting that an individual may experience inner peace even in the midst of war. One of the oldest writings on this subject is the Bhagavad Gita, a part of India's Vedic scriptures.
Sevi Regis describes inner peace as, "the state or condition of restfulness, harmony, balance, equilibrium, longevity, justice, resolution, timelessness, contentment, freedom, and fulfillment, either individually or simultaneously present, in such a way that it overcomes, demolishes, banishes, and/or replaces everything that opposes it."

Nonviolence and pacifism

Mahatma Gandhi's conception of peace was not as an end, but as a means: "There is no way to peace; peace is the way." Gandhi envisioned nonviolence as a way to make a political statement.Judeo-Christian tradition declares "Thou shalt not kill," although there is no consensus on the most accurate interpretation.
Followers of some religions, such as Jainism, go to great lengths to avoid harming any living creatures, including insects. Pacifists, such as Christian anarchists, perceive any incarnation of violence as self-perpetuating. Other groups take a wide variety of stances, many maintaining a Just War theory.

Peace organizations

  • American Friends Service Committee: religious Society of Friends (Quaker) affiliated organization which works for social justice, peace and reconciliation, abolition of the death penalty, and human rights, and provides humanitarian relief.
  • Amnesty International
  • Nonviolent Peaceforce: International NGO engaged in the creation of a large-scale international unarmed peacekeeping force, composed of trained civilians.
  • Pax Christi International: Lay Catholic peace movement
  • Peace Coup: Peace community and social network.
  • Peaceworkers UK: British NGO providing training for potential peaceworkers in nonviolent, civilian techniques of conflict transformation.
  • Seeds of Peace develops and empowers young leaders from regions of conflict to work toward peace through coexistence
  • Spirit of the Sword: a youth initiative active in Wellington, New Zealand between c.1977-1990
  • World Peace Council: International Organization for the struggle for peace.
  • Ulster Project International: International peace-project involving Protestant and Catholic teenagers from Northern Ireland and America.
  • Peacekeeping: personnel units of the United Nations deployed as a way to help countries torn by conflict create conditions for sustainable peace.
  • The Peace Alliance: A grassroots lobbying organization working to build a culture of peace in the United States through legislation to create a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence.



  1. Letter from Birmingham Jail by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr..
  2. "Pennsylvania, A History of the Commonwealth," esp. pg. 109, edited by Randall M. Miller and William Pencak, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002.
  3. Peaceful Societies, Alternatives to Violence and War Short profiles on 25 peaceful societies.
  1. The Path to Peace, by Laure Paquette
peaceful in Afrikaans: Vrede
peaceful in Arabic: سلام
peaceful in Bosnian: Mir (stanje)
peaceful in Bulgarian: Мир
peaceful in Catalan: Pau
peaceful in Czech: Mír
peaceful in Welsh: Heddwch
peaceful in Danish: Fred
peaceful in Pennsylvania German: Fridde
peaceful in German: Frieden
peaceful in Estonian: Rahu
peaceful in Spanish: Paz
peaceful in Esperanto: Paco
peaceful in Basque: Bake
peaceful in French: Paix
peaceful in Friulian: Pâs
peaceful in Galician: Paz
peaceful in Korean: 평화
peaceful in Croatian: Mir
peaceful in Indonesian: Damai
peaceful in Icelandic: Friður
peaceful in Italian: Pace
peaceful in Hebrew: שלום
peaceful in Georgian: მშვიდობა
peaceful in Latin: Pax
peaceful in Lithuanian: Taika
peaceful in Hungarian: Béke
peaceful in Dutch: Vrede
peaceful in Japanese: 平和
peaceful in Norwegian: Fred
peaceful in Norwegian Nynorsk: Fred
peaceful in Polish: Pokój (polityka)
peaceful in Portuguese: Paz
peaceful in Tahitian: Pau
peaceful in Quechua: Thak
peaceful in Russian: Мир (отсутствие войны)
peaceful in Albanian: Paqja
peaceful in Sicilian: Paci
peaceful in Sinhala: සාමය
peaceful in Simple English: Peace
peaceful in Slovak: Mier
peaceful in Serbian: Мир
peaceful in Serbo-Croatian: Mir
peaceful in Finnish: Rauha
peaceful in Swedish: Fred
peaceful in Vietnamese: Hòa bình
peaceful in Tajik: Сулҳ
peaceful in Cherokee: ᏅᏩᏙ ᎯᏯᏛ
peaceful in Turkish: Barış
peaceful in Ukrainian: Мир
peaceful in Walloon: Påye
peaceful in Yiddish: פרידן
peaceful in Chinese: 和平

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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