cold war


: a conflict over ideological differences carried on by methods short of sustained overt military action and usually without breaking off diplomatic relations
specifically, often capitalized C&W : the ideological conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the second half of the 20th century compare hot war
: a condition of rivalry, mistrust, and often open hostility short of violence especially between power groups (such as labor and management)

Examples of cold war in a Sentence

the era of the Cold War the cold war between the party's more liberal and conservative members
Recent Examples on the Web Half a century later, as Washington adjusts to the realities of a new cold war, détente could again be derailed by hawks. Niall Ferguson, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 The second cold war is intensifying Africa’s democratic recession. Foreign Affairs, 20 Sep. 2023 Enzo and Laura live together in a state of cold war that occasionally erupts into fire. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 19 Dec. 2023 Xi wants to hear from Biden that the American president will not support Taiwan independence, will not start a new cold war and will not suppress China’s economic growth. Byaamer Madhani, Fortune, 13 Nov. 2023 The prospect of a new cold war has induced some historians to reexamine the old one. Mike Watson, WSJ, 5 Nov. 2023 Now, over a decade later and both eyeing the Oval Office, their exchange at the debate brought a quietly brewing cold war to a simmering boil. Abby Cruz, ABC News, 11 Nov. 2023 What is your worst-case scenario — saying nothing and feeling like a big fat doormat, or speaking up, only to have your roommate move out/declare war/start a cold war/ignore you completely and continue hosting her boyfriend as usual? Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 20 Oct. 2023 The small, urban field is planted in tree boxes across the street from the Russian Embassy in D.C., where an entire block of residents has been in a slow-burn cold war with the diplomats behind the heavily guarded, wrought iron security gates since the country invaded Ukraine. Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cold 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

1909, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cold war was in 1909

Dictionary Entries Near cold war

Cite this Entry

“Cold war.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

cold war

: a struggle over political differences (as of two nations) carried on by methods short of war and usually without breaking off diplomatic relations

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