Praised be God, and not our strength, for it!
What is this castle call'd that stands hard by?
They call it Agincourt.
Then call we this the field of Agincourt,
Fought on the day of Crispin Crispianus.
Shakespeare's Henry V
There are no set rules to how a war should be named. They can be named after historical figures responsible for a conflict (Napoleonic War
), locations Crimean War
), duration (Seven Year War
), dates (Finnish Winter War
), reasons (War of the Spanish Succession
), combatants (Franco-Prussian War
) or other noteworthy reasons buried in the context (War of the Roses
). They can of course be sequenced if the same combatants flip flop between war
(the Fourth War of the Diadochi
You don't even need get basic fact
s right when naming a war - the Hundred Year War
actually went longer.
People often don't have the hindsight to predict how significant a war will turn out in the annals of history. World War One was originally called the Great War until a greater war came about (While The Greater War wasn't considered suitable a suitable name, before the twentieth century there were wars spanning continents). The Gulf War first referred to the war between Iran and Iraq that went from 1980 to 1988, before conflict between Iraq and the United States and its allies arose in 1991 and 2003. However none of these conflicts ever involved any significant fighting in the Persian Gulf.
Of course, different combatants will see a war differently. Americans call their intervention in Vietnam the Vietnam War, while Vietnamese call it the American War. Your opinion on federalist government and state rights would be obvious if you referred to the Civil War as the War between the States. On this matter, individual battles in that war were named differently - Northerners named battles after rivers (eg: Antietam) while Southerners named them after towns (eg: Sharpsburg).
And there is no better way to sell your version of events than by baptising your war with a self-endorsing message. Operations Just Cause and Enduring Freedom don't need explanation (although naming military operations is worth reading). The Great Patriotic War rallied the distrusting Soviet citizens together to fight Germany in World War Two. The conflicts that Israel fought were named in ways to strengthen claims for its birthright (War of Independence), compare its swift victory with God's work (the Six Day War) and to record for eternity the perfidious decision of her enemies to attack on a holy day (Yom Kippur War). The Palestinians for their part have given the uprisings in the occupied territories the name Al-Aqsa Intifada, giving the conflict a identity that can turn it into a reference point.