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world war

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noun
  1. a war that involves most of the principal nations of the world.
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Origin of world war

First recorded in 1910–15
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for world war

Historical Examples

  • But now all was peace in London, and the world-war half forgotten.

    Mademoiselle of Monte Carlo

    William Le Queux

  • Have you ever stopped to think what this world-war will mean to womankind?

    Ways of War and Peace

    Delia Austrian

  • We have signed, and the last shot of the world-war has been fired.

  • And as the Powers will be afraid of a second world-war, who will come to our aid?

    The Fight For The Republic in China

    Bertram Lenox Putnam Weale

  • We are experiencing in the world-war a fearful balancing-up with the rational intentionality of organised culture.


Word Origin and History for world war

attested by 1898 as a speculation.

If through fear of entangling alliances the United States should return the Philippines to Spain, Mr. Page asserted that the predatory nations would swoop down upon them and a world war would result. ["New York Times," Dec. 16, 1898]

Applied to the first one almost as soon as it began in 1914 ("England has Thrown Lot with France in World War" -- headline, "Pittsburgh Press," Aug. 2, 1914). World War I coined 1939, replacing Great War as the most common name for it; First World War, World War II, and Second World War all also are from 1939.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper