[in-ter-nee-seen, -sahyn, -nes-een, -nes-ahyn]
See more synonyms for internecine on
  1. of or relating to conflict or struggle within a group: an internecine feud among proxy holders.
  2. mutually destructive.
  3. characterized by great slaughter; deadly.
Also in·ter·ne·cive [in-ter-nee-siv, -nes-iv] /ˌɪn tɛrˈni sɪv, -ˈnɛs ɪv/.

Origin of internecine

1655–65; < Latin internecīnus, internecīvus murderous, equivalent to internec(āre) to kill out, exterminate (inter- inter- + necāre to kill) + -īnus -ine1, -īvus -ive Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for internecine

civil, domestic, internal, fratricidal, deadly, exterminatory

Examples from the Web for internecine

Contemporary Examples of internecine

Historical Examples of internecine

  • Internecine destruction probably has a meaning we can only guess at.

  • They would have been led on by internecine warfare to mutual destruction.

    The Last Voyage

    Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey

  • I will not believe that we stand to-day in danger of internecine war!

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • The key is, no doubt, to be found in the internecine jealousies of the sections.

  • He was one internecine battle, and he became cruel to her because of it.

    Sons and Lovers

    David Herbert Lawrence

British Dictionary definitions for internecine


  1. mutually destructive or ruinous; maiming both or all sidesinternecine war
  2. of or relating to slaughter or carnage; bloody
  3. of or involving conflict within a group or organization

Word Origin for internecine

C17: from Latin internecīnus, from internecāre to destroy, from necāre to kill
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for internecine

1660s, "deadly, destructive," from Latin internecinus "very deadly, murderous, destructive," from internecare "kill or destroy," from inter (see inter-) + necare "kill" (see noxious). Considered in the OED as misinterpreted in Johnson's Dictionary [1755], which defined it as "endeavouring mutual destruction," on association of inter- with "mutual" when the prefix supposedly is used in this case as an intensive. From Johnson, wrongly or not, has come the main modern definition of "mutually destructive."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper