One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A feud between people or families that is conducted without regard to the law.
- ‘An immediate result was the withdrawal of the right of private citizens to conduct private war.’
- ‘Any vampire found to be directly assisting either clan in their private war would be staked, beheaded, and burned to ash, and their ashes would be mixed with a dog's table scraps to be eaten.’
- ‘They are waging their own private war in the NBA Finals - a war of words, of elbows, but mostly, of spin.’
- ‘Vancouverites wage a private war against Torontonians in a storm of jealousy and rivalry of which Toronto is completely unaware.’
- ‘Traumatised by a violent incident in early childhood, Bruce Wayne grows up and decides to use his inherited wealth to wage a private war on crime.’
- ‘Just by the example of his private war with elusive sleep Papa taught me that you do the things you have to do.’
- ‘For the 78 million Americans between the ages of 38 and 56, the struggle to cling to youth has moved from a private war fought in front of the bathroom mirror to a highly public, generational obsession.’
- ‘‘Personally I think he's funding a private war that is about to start in the heart of Italy,’ Nickel said with a heavy sigh.’
- ‘For almost ten years, they provided a soundtrack to our most private war, against the mistakes we can never redeem.’
- ‘When they are not spearing octopus in the bay, the boys are playing at soldiers and fighting their own private war against them.’
- ‘A low-rung gangster, he's returning to his home town for his brother's funeral, full of questions and bringing a private war.’
- ‘He embarked on his own private war against due process, dissent and freedom of information.’
- ‘The cat and mouse game between Bond and Largo soon begins, where shockingly upscale video game is a substitute for open conflict and Domino is a prize and a pawn in their private war.’
- ‘Wasn't it the ancient Greeks who had fought their human conflicts to exhaustion, only to have their collective fate decided by unseen private wars among the Gods?’
- ‘He claimed the organisation is no longer democratic and is now controlled by a small number of people engaged in a private war.’
2Hostilities against members of another state that take place without government sanction.
- ‘The Americans ended up waging their own private war against a warlord who was solidly entrenched in the political system of his country.’
- ‘By the late 17th century, they began to coalesce into small pirate bands, seize vessels at anchorages or on the high seas, and wage their own private wars.’
- ‘This did not eliminate private wars, but it cut back on their number, at least for the duration of Louis' long reign.’
- ‘Worn out by private wars, the nobles let down their guard against the encroaching prerogative of kings and let their liberties slip away without ever taking an intelligent stand against the centralizing power.’
- ‘Iraq may be one of the problems, but it can only be dealt with not as a private war but as part of a global campaign, which will involve statesmanship as well as arms.’
- ‘But to dismiss this final as some kind of private war between two counties with an acrimonious history, and one that will suffer as a spectacle as a result, is unfair and naive.’
- ‘It's changed through the centuries, and the requirement for war only to be waged by lawful authority was a medieval one, basically to stop medieval princes from having private wars with each other.’
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