in·​ter·​ne·​cine | \ ˌin-tər-ˈne-ˌsēn How to pronounce internecine (audio) , -ˈnē-sᵊn, -ˈnē-ˌsīn, -nə-ˈsēn; in-ˈtər-nə-ˌsēn \

Definition of internecine

1 : of, relating to, or involving conflict within a group bitter internecine feuds
2 : marked by slaughter : deadly especially : mutually destructive

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Internecine comes from the Latin internecinus ("fought to the death" or "destructive"), which traces to the verb "necare" ("to kill") and the prefix inter-. ("Inter-" usually means "between" or "mutual" in Latin, but it can also indicate the completion of an action.) Internecine meant "deadly" when it appeared in English in the early 17th century, but when Samuel Johnson entered it in his dictionary almost a century later, he was apparently misled by "inter-" and defined the word as "endeavouring mutual destruction." Johnson's definition was carried into later dictionaries, and before long his sense was the dominant meaning of the word. "Internecine" developed the association with internal group conflict in the 20th century, and that's the most common sense today.

Examples of internecine in a Sentence

a political party that has suffered because of bitter internecine rivalries
Recent Examples on the Web The story chronicles the rise and fall of the onetime Wall Street powerhouse Lehman Brothers, covering nearly two centuries of bristling ambition, greed, economic history and internecine family warfare. Eben Shapiro, Time, 1 Dec. 2019 These fighters—many of them jihadists—hoarded food while civilians starved, murdered those suspected of disloyalty, and waged internecine gun battles in the streets. Robert F. Worth, The New York Review of Books, 6 Feb. 2020 The party's decades-long internecine battle over Britain's membership of the E.U. precipitated the 2016 Brexit vote. NBC News, 30 Jan. 2020 The show, as concerns the internecine politics of Hollywood itself, also whiffed of regression: Gone was the anger that had animated the 2018 show. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 6 Jan. 2020 He and John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow Chancellor and the architect of its economic policies, are veterans of strikes and internecine Labour disputes about wealth creation and the role of the state that go back to the early seventies. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 26 Nov. 2019 Since Trump has not come through on his promise of a big plan, internecine skirmishes among 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls have largely driven the health care debate in recent months., 31 Dec. 2019 Fearing the sort of internecine strife for which the SPD is known, Esken and Walter-Borjans are now going out of their way to offer an olive branch to Scholz. Washington Post, 3 Dec. 2019 Even within political factions, discipline is rare, and internecine struggle is routine. Simon Shuster / Kyiv, Time, 19 Nov. 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of internecine

1642, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for internecine

Latin internecinus, from internecare to destroy, kill, from inter- + necare to kill, from nec-, nex violent death — more at noxious

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The first known use of internecine was in 1642

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Cite this Entry

“Internecine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2022.

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