civil war


Definition of civil war 

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

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

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in South Sudan’s civil war, which has created Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide and left millions near famine. Sam Mednick, The Seattle Times, "South Sudan’s rival leaders meeting again in Sudan for talks," 25 June 2018 South Sudan’s parliament on Thursday approved extending President Salva Kiir’s term until 2021, angering the armed opposition and threatening fragile peace talks in a five-year civil war. Washington Post, "World Digest: July 12, 2018," 12 July 2018 Jandaris is the northern Syrian town near where Mr. Sayyed, an activist who uses a pseudonym for his own protection, lives in a makeshift refugee camp with thousands of others displaced by Syria’s seven-year civil war. Hwaida Saad, New York Times, "Memories Lost and Futures on Hold: A Look Inside a Camp for Syria’s Displaced," 11 July 2018 International efforts have intensified in recent weeks to end the five-year civil war that has splintered South Sudan, roughly the size of France, along ethnic lines. Nicholas Bariyo, WSJ, "South Sudan’s Exiled Former Vice President Offered Power-Sharing Deal," 8 July 2018 Tens of thousands have been killed in South Sudan's five-year civil war, which erupted two years after independence from Sudan and has created Africa's largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide and left millions near famine. Sam Mednick, The Christian Science Monitor, "South Sudanese cease-fire brings hope, skepticism for conflict's end," 28 June 2018 Six year of war in Syria, 3.1 million refugees in Turkey Four hundred and six-five thousand Syrians are reported to have been killed or missing in Syria’s six-year civil war. Allie Morris, Houston Chronicle, "Report: An estimated 4.3 million Texan workers don’t have access to paid sick leave," 5 June 2018 Gadaffi was overthrown and brutally murdered in 2011 in a civil war during which the US and NATO provided air support to the opposition. Jon Wolfsthal, The New Republic, "Trump Plays Hard to Get," 24 May 2018 The three-year civil war there has left thousands of civilians dead, millions displaced from their homes, and put the entire country on the cusp of famine in what is now the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. NBC News, "AP investigation: A Trump fundraiser's secret lobbying effort to win $1B in business," 21 May 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of civil war

circa 1533, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about civil war

Statistics for civil war

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for civil war

The first known use of civil war was circa 1533

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for civil war

civil war


English Language Learners Definition of civil war

: a war between groups of people in the same country

civil war


Kids Definition of civil war

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on civil war

Spanish Central: Translation of civil war

Nglish: Translation of civil war for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of civil war for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about civil war

Comments on civil war

What made you want to look up civil war? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an open space surrounded by woods

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!