late Old English wyrre, werre "large-scale military conflict," from Old North French werre "war" (Old French guerre "difficulty, dispute; hostility; fight, combat, war;" Modern French guerre), from Frankish *werra, from Proto-Germanic *werz-a- (source also of Old Saxon werran, Old High German werran, German verwirren "to confuse, perplex"), from PIE *wers- (1) "to confuse, mix up". Cognates suggest the original sense was "to bring into confusion."
Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian guerra also are from Germanic; Romanic peoples turned to Germanic for a "war" word possibly to avoid Latin bellum (see bellicose) because its form tended to merge with bello- "beautiful." There was no common Germanic word for "war" at the dawn of historical times. Old English had many poetic words for "war" (wig, guð, heaðo, hild, all common in personal names), but the usual one to translate Latin bellum was gewin "struggle, strife" (related to win (v.)).
First record of war-time is late 14c. Warpath (1775) originally is in reference to North American Indians, as are war-whoop (1761), war-paint (1826), and war-dance (1757). War crime is attested from 1906 (in Oppenheim's "International Law"). War chest is attested from 1901; now usually figurative. War games translates German Kriegspiel (see kriegspiel).
The causes of war are always falsely represented ; its honour is dishonest and its glory meretricious, but the challenge to spiritual endurance, the intense sharpening of all the senses, the vitalising consciousness of common peril for a common end, remain to allure those boys and girls who have just reached the age when love and friendship and adventure call more persistently than at any later time. The glamour may be the mere delirium of fever, which as soon as war is over dies out and shows itself for the will-o'-the-wisp that it is, but while it lasts no emotion known to man seems as yet to have quite the compelling power of this enlarged vitality. [Vera Brittain, "Testament of Youth"]
The world will never have lasting peace so long as men reserve for war the finest human qualities. [John Foster Dulles, Speech on the Marshall Plan, 1948]
Middle English bitwene, from Old English betweonum, Mercian betwinum, "in the space which separates, midway, in the midst, among; by turns," from bi- "by" (see by) + tweonum dative plural of *tweon "two each" (compare Gothic tweih-nai "two each;" from PIE root *dwo- "two").
Between is literally applicable only to two objects; but it may be and commonly is used of more than two where they are spoken of distributively, or so that they can be thought of as divided into two parts or categories, or with reference to the action or being of each individually as compared with that of any other or all the others. When more than two objects are spoken of collectively or in divisibly, among is the proper word. [Century Dictionary]
In all senses, between has been from its earliest appearance, extended to more than two. [OED]
Between a rock and a hard place "caught in a dilemma, in a difficult situation" is from 1940s, originally cowboy slang (earlier was between the beetle (hammer) and the block, late 19c.). Between-whiles "at intervals" is from 1670s.
"nonhostile belligerency," used in print October 1945 by George Orwell; popularized in U.S. c. 1947 by U.S. statesman Bernard Baruch (1870-1965). Hence hot war (1947).
More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly. [Woody Allen, from "My Speech to the Graduates," 1979]
attested from 1617, originally with reference to Holland; the North American confederation first so called in 1776. United Provinces were the seven northern provinces of the Netherlands, allied from 1579, later developing into the kingdom of Holland.
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 was 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. Old English had woruldgewinn, woruldgefeoht, both of which might be translated "world war," but with "world" in the sense of "earthly, secular."
In reference to the conflict between the U.S. and Great Britain, so called in U.S. by 1815.