- 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.