How and when are wars given names?


Wars such as the War of Roses. Was it always named that or when do wars normally get a common name?

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The names for Wars are coined either by historians, or today the media. Often the names based on where they were fought, and don’t get a common name until long after they are over. This is in part because various wars and conflicts are often related so historians have a way of bundling various conflicts together after the fact into a single historical war.

The Vietnam War, Korean War, The Russian Afghan war, etc are of course named after where they were fought. Historically many of these conflicts in the 20th century may end up become merged together in history texts as “The Cold War”

The 2nd Iraq War and the US Afghan conflict may end up being known to history collectively as “the War on Terror”.

The Yom Kippur war in the Middle East was named after the Jewish Holiday that was the stage for the start of the conflict.

World War 1 was originally referred to as “The Great War” by Veterans, but the term World War 1 + 2 I believe was coined by Time Magazine some time after WW2 ended. Centuries from now they may even be consider two halves of the same conflict as the direct cause of WW2 was WW1, but the Nazi’s involvement in WW2 may strongly overshadow that and keep the 2 wars separate.

The 7 years war, surprise surprise, lasted 7 years but didn’t get named that until long after it was finished.

Not sure about wars like the war of the roses but a lot of wars with names like Franco-Prussian follow a system. It’ll be the combatants with the loser’s name put first. The Russians lost the Russo-Japanese war etc.

When they are named. There’s no rule as to when. Wars will also generally be given multiple names because there’s no official body which names them.

For example, the conflict that started with the German invasion of Poland is known as both the Second World War and World War Two. As to when they were named such……… before the outbreak. This is because contrary to popular belief while the conflict of 1914 to 1918 was more popularly known as The Great War there were those who were calling it The First World War (rather pessimistic bunch) and so they predicted that Germany was about to start a Second World War.

> Wars such as the War of Roses.

That was just known as “the civil wars” at the time. The name “The Wars of the Roses” was popularised by a 19th century novel by Walter Scott.

Wars tend to be known by very generic names while they’re going on – often just something like “the war”. Propagandists will sometimes try and promote a name that paints their side in a good light. Later on, historians and writers will often try and promote names that they feel are particularly appropriate or poetic. And then it just depends what catches on. Sometimes different names catch on in different places, for example in Russia the Second World War is known as the Great Patriotic War.

Also there are sometimes disagreements about how to define the scope of a war. For example, some would argue that conflicts such as the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Spanish Civil War and the Second Italo-Ethiopian War should be included within the scope of “the Second World War”.

As far as The Wars of the Roses was concerned, that name was not contemporary; it was the Civil Wars. When Henry VII took the throne in 1485 he married the daughter of Edward IV, uniting the houses of Lancaster and York, which used a red rose and a white rose as their emblem respectively. But the phrase Wars of The Roses really only came into popular use in the 19th century.