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 : 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 enemy, in this case, are the members of a single internecine family, vis-à-vis one another and their own sorry, self-defeating souls. New York Times, "Review: Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville Lead a Hard-Run ‘Long Day’s Journey’," 13 May 2018 Like other societies recovering from internecine violence, Northern Ireland brims... Michael O’donnell, WSJ, "‘Say Nothing’ Review: The Ballad of Jean McConville," 26 Feb. 2019 Maybe none of this internecine Republican conflict is real. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Farm bill, immigration redux, Ryan's potential ouster, like a Shakespeare 'play within a play'," 26 May 2018 The Conservatives’ internecine struggle is on show in everything from the buttons sported by delegates to the dozens of events dedicated to alternative withdrawal plans on the conference’s fringes. Max Colchester, WSJ, "U.K. Conservative Party Reveals Its Deep Divides," 1 Oct. 2018 Croatia has a population of just four million, and many members of its current team grew up during, or in the immediate aftermath of, the bloody, internecine war that accompanied the collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Belgium’s Blueprint, Croatia’s Chaos, and the Murky Path to World Cup Glory," 10 July 2018 The internecine conflict could become all-consuming in the free-for-all nominating contest to take on Trump in 2020 and cause a leftward lurch that helps the president win reelection. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Crowley going down spotlights the looming Democratic identity crisis," 27 June 2018 In a state that is still largely rural and tinged with a libertarian mistrust of big government, Mr. Tester drives a beat-up pickup truck, shoots guns and has little to say about his party’s internecine fights. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "Jon Tester, a Democrat in Deep-Red Montana, Isn’t Sweating Trump’s Threats," 3 June 2018 Most described traveling hundreds of miles only to find themselves in the midst of internecine fights for territorial control, rather than battling Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces or helping civilians. Fox News, "Europe faces a wave of freed terror convicts. Is it ready?," 11 May 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

28 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for internecine

The first known use of internecine was in 1642

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More Definitions for internecine



English Language Learners Definition of internecine

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on internecine

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with internecine

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for internecine

Spanish Central: Translation of internecine

Nglish: Translation of internecine for Spanish Speakers

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an enemy or opponent

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