On 11 November 1918, at 11 AM Paris time, the armistice that ended fighting between the Triple Entente and Germany in the First World War came into effect, and to this day, nations around the world hold memorial days on November 11th, no matter what they are called—Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Memorial Day, or Veterans Day.
For better or for worse, wars are no small part of human history, and that is evident in the questions the English Language and Usage Stack Exchange site receives. Let’s take a look at a few:
As most countries observe November 11th in honor of those who died in WWI, let’s start with a question about that conflict. How do we expand the acronym?
Our members provide several suggestions: the First World War and World War One seem to be among the names most commonly used.
Another fascinating question of terminology. The OP perhaps explains the question best:
[T]he side described as “allies” is nearly always reserved to the side to which the speaker has sympathy. Although technically the word means somebody in alliance, I virtually never seen the word applied to a supposedly bad side even if that side has an alliance of their own.
Let’s say we’d like to sidestep the issue of naming each side and just use a more general term for the two sides fighting in a war. What are our options?
When referring to a specific war (or other named event), should the word “war” be capitalized when it appears alone?
Here’s a broader question. If we’re referring to, say, the Cold War, and we use the word war by itself, should it be capitalized?
On a related note, decimate is a word commonly criticized that many people believe should mean to kill one in every ten, but very rarely do we see it used to mean the execution of a proportion that is anywhere near one-tenth. How often is the “correct” meaning used?
Very rarely, it seems—the answerers only seem to have been able to source it a few times. But ShreevatsaR provides us with an interesting glimpse of why what many people perceive to be the correct meaning is in fact not grounded in historical fact. Fascinating reading.
No matter where you live, November 11 marks an important anniversary for the human race—WWI is called a world war for a reason. Even as we enjoy the remarkable uniqueness of the date (i.e. 11-11-11), we should also take a moment to remember the tragedies of the World Wars.