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Answered 2006-02-06 13:54:20

The war of 1914-1918, which had involved most of the coutries of Europe and spilled over, to some extent, to their overseas empires, was usually called The Great War but was also called The World War. When a new war began in 1939, with the same major participants on the same sides, and which many people considered just a continuation of the previous war, it was natural, even inevitable, to call it The Second World War. The first mention of the term may have been by Germans -- they used it some time in 1942 in military literature.

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