- Nov 12, 2000
My uncle was wondering and now I am too.
A favorite peeve of mine is when people in movies refer to "World War I"
before World War II takes place."
Well, they did refer to it as WW I before WW II happened.
"It was commonly called "The Great War" or sometimes "the war to end all
wars" until World War II, although the name "First World War" was coined as
early as 1920 by Lt-Col à Court Repington in The First World War 1914 *18."
"Wars are socially constructed, as are their names. The war known in some
circles as the Civil War or the War Between the States is also known in
other circles as the War of Northern Agression.
The Oxford English Dictionary reports that the phrase "world war" was first
noted in use in the 8 April 1909 edition of the Westminster Gazette.
The conflict that erupted in August 1914, and that ended at the 11th hour of
the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, was known at the time simply as the
Great War. In the United States, it was officially designated The World War.
On October 7, 1919, War Department General Orders No. 115 directed: "The war
against the Central Powers of Europe, in which the United States has taken
part, will hereafter be designated in all official communications and
publications as 'The World War.'" It was also called "The War to End All
Wars," but this optimism proved unjustified. Some would suggest that this
War was just the first phase of the Second 30 Years War, spanning the period
1914 - 1945.
The term "First World War" was used in 1920 by Lt-Col à Court Repington, in
his book The First World War 1914-18.
The phrase "World War 2" was first noted in use in Manchester Guardian on
18 February 1919. It seems that World Wars I & II were named together for
the first time by Time magazine on 11 September 1938."