in·ter·ne·cine | \ ˌin-tər-ˈne-ˌsēn , -ˈnē-sᵊn , -ˈnē-ˌsīn , -nə-ˈsēn ; in-ˈtər-nə-ˌsēn \

Definition of internecine 

1 : marked by slaughter : deadly especially : mutually destructive

2 : of, relating to, or involving conflict within a group bitter internecine feuds

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Did You Know?

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 1663, 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 modern Middle East has been plagued by ruinous wars: country versus country, civil wars with internecine and sectarian bloodletting, and numerous eruptions centered in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Washington Post, "Mideast conflicts connected by vying powerbrokers," 17 May 2018 In commercials, Republican Mike Braun exploited the internecine fighting between Messer and Rokita. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "House Republicans had a bad night – can they prevent a bad November?," 10 May 2018 The abduction will be pinned on a rival cartel, resulting in an internecine war: bring on the worst of times. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Borderland Brutality of “Sicario 2: Soldado”," 9 July 2017 With the rise of populist movements in the U.S. and Europe, a kind of internecine warfare has broken out among writers and thinkers of a conservative cast of mind. Richard Aldous, WSJ, "‘Conservativism’ Review: Holding On to the Good Things," 14 June 2018 But in the post-equality era, the play stands as a compelling portrayal of internecine savagery bred by the stigma of isolation and oppression, by turns bitingly funny and moving. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Boys in the Band': Theater Review," 1 June 2018 Fascinated by families, interested in internecine squabbles, and always driven by the whims of its matriarch, Falcon Crest sounds a lot more like Pose than Dynasty does. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "FX’s Pose turns ’80s gay and trans culture into a heartfelt celebration of found families," 1 June 2018 Every family has its unsavory secrets and internecine squabbles, of course. Sarah Lyall,, "For Meghan Markle’s American family, a relentless UK glare," 16 May 2018 Its message, as the shadow of terrorism encroaches: while an internecine war raged in the halls of power, Americans were on their own. Daniel D'addario, Time, "The Looming Tower Tells a Darkly Ironic Story About the Pre-9/11 Years," 28 Feb. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of internecine

1642, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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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Statistics for internecine

Last Updated

15 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for internecine

The first known use of internecine was in 1642

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English Language Learners Definition of internecine

: occurring between members of the same country, group, or organization

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to make amends

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