A world war is a war affecting most of the world's most powerful and populous countries. World wars span multiple countries on multiple continents, with battles fought in multiple theaters.
The term is usually applied to the two conflicts of unprecedented scale that occurred during the 20th century: World War I (1914–1918) and World War II (1939–1945). However, it is also sometimes applied to earlier wars and to a hypothetical future war.
Famous quotes containing the words world war, world and/or war:
“... there was the first Balkan war and the second Balkan war and then there was the first world war. It is extraordinary how having done a thing once you have to do it again, there is the pleasure of coincidence and there is the pleasure of repetition, and so there is the second world war, and in between there was the Abyssinian war and the Spanish civil war.”
—Gertrude Stein (18741946)
“Intellectualism is the belief that our mind comes upon a world complete in itself, and has the duty of ascertaining its contents; but has no power of re-determining its character, for that is already given.”
—William James (18421910)
“The British blockade won the war; but the wonder is that the British blockhead did not lose it. I suppose the enemy was no wiser. War is not a sharpener of wits.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)