[Ads-l] Antedating of "Cold War" in a General Sense

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Wed Aug 22 06:52:23 EDT 2018

The OED's first use for "cold war" is dated 1945.  Searches of newspapers and periodicals make it clear that there was earlier usage in a general sense, referring to a conflict fought by nonmilitary means rather than to the specific sense of a struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union.  I have previously traced this general usage back to the Nation in 1938, but here is probably an earlier one (I say "probably" because the context of the citation is pretty confusing):

1936 _Sydney Morning Herald_ 2 July 10/3 (Newspapers.com)  [It is unlikely] that the "52 nations" will, in the League cause now, undertake against Italy that "cold war" which they refused to undertake earlier.

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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