steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

World War II - what's in a name?

Apropos of nothing, I wonder if anyone can tell me when the phrases "Second World War" and/or "World War II" came into common use? And at what point "World War I" overtook "Great War" as the more widespread name for the earlier conflict? Are the terms ascribed to anyone in particular? I feel I ought to know this!

The OED isn't a lot of use here, but its first two entries do suggest that the name may predate the war itself - which, considering how much of my youth was spent speculating about World War III, is perhaps not so surprising.

1919 Manch. Guardian 18 Feb. 10/2 (heading) World War No 2. 1939 Time 11 Sept. 38/1 Some of the diplomatic juggling which last week ended in World War II was old-fashioned international jockeying for power. Ibid. 18 Sept. 10/2 Exports of arms, munitions and related materials in World War I only 25% of total exports to the Allies.
Tags: language
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