civil war


plural civil wars
: 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 Myanmar is locked in a civil war between the military on one side and, on the other, a loose alliance of ethnic minority rebels and an armed movement which emerged in response to the junta’s bloody crackdown on anti-coup protests. Reuters, NBC News, 4 Apr. 2024 For years, pressures have been mounting from extractive industries in Namibia and Angola, still recovering from a hideous 27-year civil war, which threaten the lakes and rivers that supply the Okavango with water. Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, 1 Apr. 2024 Wide Awake: The Forgotten Force that Elected Lincoln and Spurred the Civil War A propulsive account of our history's most surprising, most consequential political club: the Wide Awake antislavery youth movement that marched America from the 1860 election to civil war. Jon Grinspan, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Apr. 2024 This will cause civil strife, including demonstrations and probably various civil wars. Tracey Follows, Forbes, 29 Mar. 2024 A lot of people have been talking about the backstory — or lack thereof — to the onscreen civil war, and how Texas and California came to team up. Seija Rankin, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Mar. 2024 Putin changed the course of the Syrian civil war by intervening in 2015, supporting President Bashar al-Assad against the opposition and Islamic State. USA TODAY, 24 Mar. 2024 News outlets thrive on conflict, which sells papers and drives ratings, going so far as to foment fear around the possibility of a second American civil war. Peter Debruge, Variety, 15 Mar. 2024 Russia’s heavy-handed rule over the Muslim-majority North Caucasus region and its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the long-running civil war have spurred jihadist narratives against Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Victoria Bisset, Washington Post, 23 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'civil war.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1533, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of civil war was circa 1533

Dictionary Entries Near civil war

Cite this Entry

“Civil war.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

civil war

: a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country or nation
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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