The Latin term bellum civile was first used of the Roman civil wars of the 1st century BC.
The term civilis here had the very specific meaning of "Roman citizen".
The English term civil war was first used in 1651 to refer to the English Civil War.
Since the 17th century, the term has also been applied retroactively to other historical conflicts where at least one side claims to represent the country's civil society .
The terms internecine war and domestic war are often used interchangeably with "civil war", but "internecine war" can be used in a wider meaning, referring to any conflict within a single state, regardless of the participation of civil forces. Thus, any war of succession is by definition an internecine war, but not necessarily a civil war.
In modern geopolitics since 1945, "civil war" is also used in a loose sense to refer to any large scale military conflict within a single country, creating terminological overlap with insurgencies or coups d'état.
Past civil wars
Ancient and medieval
Only civil wars involving popular or civil forces are listed here. Not covered are wars between clans, warlords or dynasties, wars of succession, etc. Such wars of succession are sometimes also described as "Civil Wars" in modern literature, see e.g. Ottoman Civil War or Islamic Civil War.
Roman Civil Wars
First Fitna, 656-661, the first Islamic "civil war" between Ali and the Umayyads
Second Fitna, c. 680/683-c. 685/692, the second Islamic "civil war" between the Umayyads and