War

Ancient warfare: Stele of the Vultures, c 2500 BC Medieval warfare: Battle of Hastings, 1066
Nuclear warfare: Nuclear weapon test, 1954 Early modern warfare: Retreat from Moscow, 1812
Modern warfare: Into the Jaws of Death, 1944 Industrial age warfare: Battle of the Somme, 1916

Clockwise from top left: Ancient warfare: Stele of the Vultures, c 2500 BC. Medieval warfare: Battle of Hastings, 1066. Early modern warfare: Retreat from Moscow, 1812. Industrial age warfare: Battle of the Somme, 1916. Modern warfare: Into the Jaws of Death, 1944. Nuclear warfare: Nuclear weapon test, 1954.

War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general.[1] Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties.

The scholarly study of war is sometimes called polemology (i/ MOL-ə-jee), from the Greek polemos, meaning "war", and -logy, meaning "the study of".

While some scholars see war as a universal and ancestral aspect of human nature,[2] others argue it is a result of specific socio-cultural, economic or ecological circumstances.[3]

Etymology

Mural of War (1896), by Gari Melchers

The English word war derives from the 11th-century Old English words wyrre and werre, from Old French werre (also guerre as in modern French), in turn from the Frankish *werra, ultimately deriving from the Proto-Germanic *werzō 'mixture, confusion'. The word is related to the Old Saxon werran, Old High German werran, and the German verwirren, meaning “to confuse”, “to perplex”, and “to bring into confusion”.[4]