Skip to content
Elementary vocabulary
Share
Explore
New: elem

War

Loading…
War Vocabulary: General Terms
Military is an adjective or noun meaning related to a nation’s armed forces.
Civilian (also adj. or n.) means someone or something not in the military.
Enemies or opponents are nations or people fighting against a country.
Allies are nations on the same side, supporting each other.
Neutral countries are nations that are not involved on either side.
Types of conflict
War is a violent conflict between two or more groups (usually nations).
A battle is a violent encounter between opposing sides, often as part of a larger war.
Combat is periods of actual fighting. (Before antibiotics, more soldiers died of infected wounds than during active combat.)
A revolution is a struggle between large groups that leads to a major change in government and society. (Often those who have been powerless are trying to take power away from the current dominant class.)
Rebellions, revolts and uprisings all aim to change the government, too. But they don't overthrow class relations and social arrangements as a revolution does.
(Some historians consider the American ‘Revolution’ an independence struggle rather than a revolution. That's debated because it did lead to major changes in social organization.)
A civil war is a war between two (or more) groups within one nation. (In the United States, people in the north talk about the civil war in the U.S. between 1861 and 1865. In the past, many Southerners objected to that term. They felt the Confederate states had left the Union and were no longer part of one nation.)
A coup d’état is a government overthrow, often by the military or a small group of conspirators
Military Operations, Defensive and Offensive
Defense
To fortify something (a vb.) is to make it strong. Forts are buildings with strong walls. They protect important places against attack. (Examples are river crossings, harbors, mountain passes, or other key entry points.) Fortifications are any structures built for protection. They include walls, trenches (ditches to hide in), forts, etc.
To guard (a verb: vb.) is to watch over and protect someone or something. A guard (n.) is the person who does that. A sentry is a military guard keeping watch to prevent enemies from entering a camp, fort, etc.
To retreat (n. or vb.) is to withdraw from (leave) an area in an orderly way. Soldiers often retreat after losing a battle to prevent further losses
Offense
An attack is violent aggression against a person or country. (The verb is to attack.)
An invasion is when attackers enter the territory of their enemy to take control of it. (To invade is the verb.)
An invading army can besiege (vb.) a fortified city by surrounding it and trying to cut off its supplies. The intention of a siege (the noun) is to weaken the residents enough to overcome their defenses and capture the city.
A naval blockade (n. or vb.) is similar: ships prevent necessary supplies from reaching a city or country. It can be very effective in countries that depend on trade for food and other basic needs, or for weapons and income to keep fighting. During the American Civil War, a blockade of the South cut off needed supplies as well as income. The South had specialized in producing cotton for export rather than diversifying its economy. So it did not produce the weapons, equipment, and in some parts food needed to get by on its own.
To capture (usually vb.) people or cities is take control of them.
An ambush (n. or vb.) is a trap planned to capture or destroy enemy troops. The side planning the ambush hides most of their troops so that their enemies expect an easy victory. When their enemies attack, the hidden troops come out and overwhelm the enemy forces.
Results of a battle:
Victory is winning a battle (or a war.) Defeat is losing it, and a stalemate occurs when neither side gains much.
Casualties are people killed or injured. Losses can include equipment and positions lost as well as deaths and injuries
Prisoners of war are fighters captured by the opposing side. (They may be imprisoned- kept in prisons. Sometimes the two sides arrange for an exchange of prisoners.)
Want to print your doc?
This is not the way.
Try clicking the ⋯ next to your doc name or using a keyboard shortcut (
CtrlP
) instead.