civil war

plural civil wars

Definition of civil war

: a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country a country on the brink of (a) civil war often used in the capitalized names of specific wars the Spanish Civil War(American/U.S.) Civil War monuments

Note: The American Civil War, fought 1861–1865 between the United States and 11 southern states that had seceded from it, is also commonly known as the U.S. Civil War, or especially in the U.S. as the War Between the States or simply the Civil War.

Examples of civil war in a Sentence

a region that has had many civil wars The country is on the brink of civil war.
Recent Examples on the Web In Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad has relied on Iranian troops, money and weapons in a brutal civil war, the government views reports about Mr. Khamenei’s health with growing alarm, said an adviser to the Syrian government. David S. Cloud And Aresu Eqbali, WSJ, 17 Sep. 2022 Fighting erupted Wednesday near the Tigrayan border in Ethiopia, ending a months-long cease-fire and launching a new phase in a civil war that has had devastating humanitarian consequences. Rachel Chason, Washington Post, 24 Aug. 2022 The two parties were born as guerrilla movements that drove out Portuguese colonists in 1975 but turned on each other in a bitter civil war that ended in 2002. Lynsey Chutel,, 24 Aug. 2022 Those events culminated in a civil war and the extinction of the dragons—at least until Daenerys Targaryen came along. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 22 Aug. 2022 Russia has been involved in the Syrian civil war for nearly seven years, helping to prop up Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and its shipments of military vehicles have generally gone in the other direction. David Meyer, Fortune, 10 Aug. 2022 Formerly known as Formosa, the island was taken over by the fleeing Chinese Nationalist government after it was defeated by the communists in 1949, in the Chinese civil war. Stephanie Yang, Los Angeles Times, 30 July 2022 Juma fled to Libya, hoping to make it to Europe from there, but got caught up in Libya’s civil war and ended up in a series of detention camps. David Mckenzie, CNN, 22 July 2022 All three nations have intervened in Syria's ongoing civil war. Grayson Quay, The Week, 19 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'civil war.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of civil war

circa 1533, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for civil war

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The first known use of civil war was circa 1533

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Dictionary Entries Near civil war

civil union

civil war


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Statistics for civil war

Last Updated

28 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Civil war.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for civil war

civil war


Kids Definition of civil war

: a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country


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