Before WWII, what was WWI known as in non-English-speaking countries?

In English-speaking countries between 1919 and 1939, it seems as if “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars” were the most common phrases used to denote what we now know as World War I. During that same interval, what was it known as in non-English-speaking countries?

Two posters in this thread from Quora address the question but I have no idea whether their claims are accurate. And, in this thread, from a place called The Straight Dope, a couple of claims are made regarding the German and “Russian” equivalents.

Was ‘The Great War’ (i.e. its literally translated equivalent) used pretty much around the globe? Or did some countries have their own unique phrase for it?

In German, I have not encountered references to a phrase “der große Krieg” which would be the literal translation of “the Great War”. The references that I encountered in contemporary texts (in WWI and the 1920s) were to der Krieg (the war - the last war Germany was involved in was more than four decades back and was soon eclipsed in its impact by WWI) - and specificially der Weltkrieg (the world war" - see Google NGram

The term in French was “La Grande Guerre.”

See the entry in the French Wikipedia: “La Grande Guerre est un nom donné, notamment jusque dans les années 1940s, à la Première Guerre Mondiale … et avant encore cela, La Grande Guerre désignait l’ensemble des guerres napoléoniennes”

(“La Great War is the name given, just up until the 1940s, to the First World War … and before that, the Great War designated the series of Napoleonic Wars.”)

H.G. Wells and Woodrow Wilson had a distinct formulation:

In Urdu the term for World War I was Jang-e-Azeem (literally the Great War).

After the second go about, the first world war began to be known as “Pheli Jang-e-Azeem” i.e “the First Great War” and 1939-45 as Doosri Jang-e-Azeem you guessed it, “the Second Great War”

In Spanish and Catalan I’ve heard Gran Guerra (the most common one), Gran Guerra Europea and Guerra Europea (coincidental spellings, slightly different pronunciations). Great War, Great European War, European War.

Uncle Google finds references to WWII that also call it Gran Guerra Europea (mostly from sites about History), but I don’t recall hearing that one in the wild for the Second; some of those same sites use Guerra Europea to refer to the first stages of WWII.

Emphasis supplied.

So out of curiosity what is the War in the Far East called?

Which of them?

The second world war in the Far East.

Or do Spanish books say that the Guerra Europea ended with the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Japan?


Ehrm… Guerra Europea refers either to WWI or to the part of WWII before Pearl Harbor. Mostly to the first. The part of WWII involving the Japanese is the Guerra en el Pacífico part of la Segunda Guerra Mundial.