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Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W Y Z
 
Abdicate
To abandon or step down from power.
Agadir Crisis
A colonial crisis between France and Germany in 1911.
Aggressor
Provoker or attacker
Air aces
Popular term for fighter pilots.
Ammunition
Supply of weaponry i.e. munitions, bullets, shells.
Amputate
To cut off
Anglo-French
British and French
Annexation
A takeover or seizure of land.
Anonymous
Unknown
Arbitration
Negotiation
Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was assassinated 28th June 1914.
Archie
Anti aircraft gun or gunnery
Armaments
Weaponry or munitions
Articulate
To make clear
Asquith, Herbert Henry
Leader of the Liberal Party and British Prime Minister 1908-1916.
Attrition
Strategy of wearing down the enemy through continual attack and pressure.
August Madness
The term given to describe the rush of volunteer recruits for Kitcheners Army in August 1914.
 
Battle cruiser
A lightly armoured warship.
BE Biplane
An aircraft with two sets of wings used mainly for reconnaissance until 1916.
Beatty, Admiral
Commander of the Grand Fleet's Battle cruiser Squadron. Most famous for his actions in the Battle of Jutland, May 1916, where attacked and inflicted damage on the German High before the Grand Fleet arrived. He was appointed Commander of the Grand Fleet in November 1916
Big Four
Sometimes called 'The Big Three' as Vittorio Orlando of Italy was sidelined by the other powers.
Blighty Ones
A self-inflicted wound in an attempt to get sent home.
Blockade
To block or prevent the import or export of supplies from a port.
Bombardment
A heavy assault or attack of artillery
Brest-Litovsk, Treaty of
A signed agreement between Russia and the Central Powers when Russia withdrew from the War.
British Grand Fleet
The main British naval force
Bryce Report
A government report documenting German atrocities against the Belgians in 1914. The report was doubted after the war, though some German violence against civilians was proved.
Bully Beef
Slang term for tinned meat
Bleed France White
The phrase was coined by General Falkenhayn as the stated aim of the Battle of Verdun.
Business as Usual
Phrase coined by Churchill to suggest how British society should react to the wartime situation.
 
Calamity
Disaster or catastrophe.
Cambrai
Scene of first successful tank battle in 1917.
Cavalry
Soldiers on horseback.
Cavell, Edith
A British Nurse serving in Belgium. Shot in 1915 having been accused of helping allied prisoners to escape.
Central Powers
Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey.
Charismatic
Charming or captivating.
Chloride of Lime
Used to purify water in the trenches.
Chronically
Extremely or acutely.
Chumpy
Slang term used here to refer to the ill effects of shell shock.
Churchill, Winston
Lord of the Admiralty at the outbreak of war, he was later appointed minister of munitions in 1917 and state secretary for war and air in 1918.
Cite
To quote or refer to.
Clemenceau, Georges
French Prime Minister
Clydeside
A region of industrial and civil unrest in Glasgow.
Clydeside Workers Committee
A workers organisation set up by a group of shop stewards to resist the Munitions Act.
Coalition
A unified alliance between different groups to achieve a common purpose.
Comradeship
Friendship among fellow soldiers
Conciliatory
Peacemaking or appeasing.
Conflict
Struggle or battle.
Conscientious Objectors
A person who objects to fighting for political, religious or humanistic reasons.
Conscription
A system of compulsory recruitment for the armed services.
Conservative
A British right-wing political party
Conspiracy
A secret plan
Conspirators
People who take part in a Conspiracy.
Constantinople
Capital of Turkey.
Contradict
To say the opposite of.
Controversy
Disagreement or dispute over something.
Convoy system
Merchant ships sail in groups protected by an armed naval escort. The system was used to combat threat of unrestricted submarine warfare.
Creeping barrage
Artillery fire from each unit advancing in stages of one line at a time.
 
Dardanelles
A narrow strip of water dividing European from Asiatic Turkey
Daylight saving time
Introduced in 1914 under the Defence of the Realm Act to gain an added hour of daylight.
De Valera, Eamon
A member of the movement campaigning for Irish independence. He took part in the Easter Rebellion of 1916. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was later released in 1917.
Decoy
A dummy or imitation copy used to deceive the enemy.
Defence of the Realm Act
D.O.R.A. was introduced in August 1914 to give the Government more control over Civilian life.
Delegation
Person or people acting on behalf of others for a fixed purpose.
Demilitarised Zone
An area that has been demilitarised i.e. from which all military effects have been removed.
Demobilisation
To remove from active military service.
Demoralise
A loss of confidence or sense of belief.
Derby, Lord
Introduced a voluntary recruitment policy called the 'Derby Scheme'. British Minister of War 1916-1918.
Desertion
To leave or run away from.
Deterrent
Something designed to stop a person or people from doing something.
Dogfights
Term for enemy aircraft engaged in aerial combat.
Dominate
To have power or influence over.
Dominion
A country which was part of the British Empire, but had its own government.
Dorsal Gun
A type of machine gun found on some aircraft.
Douai
A town in Northern France.
Dreadnought
A heavily armed battleship.
Duckboards
A board which was laid down on trench floors and flooded fields to help stop soldiers from sinking into the muddy ground.
Dug-Outs
Name given to the rough living space made in a trench.
 
Eastern Front
Name given to the fighting on the German-Russian, Austro-Russian and Austro-Romanian fronts.
Emancipate
To set free.
Entrenched
To be fixed or deeply rooted in an area.
 
Falkenhayn, General Erich Von
Chief of the Imperial German General Staff
First Aid Nursing Yeomanry
An organisation of women recruits, who ran field hospitals, drove ambulances and worked in troop canteens.
First Battle of Ypres
The beginning of stalemate on the Western Front in 1914.
Fitzgerald, Admiral Charles
Founder of the Order of the White Feather
Flanders
A region of Belgium. It was the scene of the third Battle of Ypres and lent its name to the famous first world war poem 'In Flanders Fields' by John McCrae.
Foch, General Ferdinand
French General
Forestalling
Avoiding or averting
Fourteen Points
The war aims outlined by President Wilson in 1918, which he believed would promote lasting peace.
 
Gallipoli
Scene of an unsuccessful naval expedition in 1915, off the Dardanelles.
Gangrenous
Rotting body tissue
George V, King
British Monarch from 1910-1936.
German High Seas Fleet
The German Navy
'Gird up our loins'
Be prepared for the worst, be brave
Gotha
A ground attack aircraft that was used to great effect on the Western and Eastern Front during the First World War.
Great Push
The term given to General Haig’s Somme offensive
Grey, Sir Edward
British Foreign Secretary during the First World War
Guttural
Harsh, unpleasant to hear, throaty
 
Hague convention
An agreement made in 1899 forbidding the use of poison or poisoned weapons.
Haig, General Sir Douglas
Commander in Chief of the BEF.
Hawthorn Ridge
Scene where mines were detonated on the first day of the Battle of Somme, 1916.
Henderson, Arthur
Labour politician
High Command
Name given to the decision making body of the German Army i.e. Commander in Chief and senior military officials.
Hipper, Admiral Franz Von
Commander of the battle cruiser squadron of the German High Seas Fleet.
Hodge, John
Trade Union leader
Home Front
The name given to the part of war that was not actively involved in the fighting but which was vital to it.
Hydrogen
This colourless, invisible, odourless gas was used in the Zeppelin airships. A highly flammable gas
 
Idealist
Optimist
Ignoble
Shameful or dishonourable
Impenetrable
Unable to pass, blocked
Imperial
Refers to all things relating to Empire or Emperor.

Term

Defintion
Imperialism
Control of other countries by a dominant nation
Inauthentic
Fake, not real
Incendiary bullets
A bullet that sets fire to something on impact.
Indignant
Angry or annoyed
Industrial revolution
Describes time in which Britain changed from a rural to an urban economy due to the rapid developments in technology and society.
Inflation
Increase or rise in price
Influenza epidemic
A virus that broke out in 1918. It is estimated that it killed more people than were actually lost throughout four years of fighting.
IRA
Irish Republican Army founded in 1858. Took part in the Easter Rising 1916.
 
Jellicoe, Admiral
Commander of the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland, he was blamed for the lack of a clear British success. He was appointed First Sea Lord in 1916.
Joffre, General Joseph
Chief of French General Staff. Also known as 'Papa Joffre'.
Juno
An old battle cruiser that was the only ship within reasonable distance of the Lusitania when she sank. She failed to pick up any survivors.
Jutland, Battle of
Major naval engagement between Britain and Germany, May 1916. The largest sea battle in history.
 
Kitchener, Lord Horatio Herbert
British Secretary of State for War until 1916.
Kith and Kin
Family members
 
Labour MPs
Parliamentary members of the Labour Party.
Latrines
Toilets
Launched
To have started or got underway
League Of Nations
A union of countries formed in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles to uphold peace, security and promote settlements by arbitration.
Leaving certificate
Introduced in 1915 to stop employers outbidding each other for the limited supply of skilled workers
Lenient
Easy-going or tolerant.
Lenin, Vladimir Illych
As leader of the Bolshevik (Communist) Party, he became leader of the country after the Russian Revolution, 1917.
Liberal
Liberal British political party
Lloyd George, David
British Prime Minister, 1916-21.
Ludendorff, General Erich Von
Chief of staff of the German Army he was responsible for German military decisions. After the failure of his peace offensive in August 1918 he demanded an armistice.
Lusitania
British passenger ship that was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915.
 
Mannock, Edward
Most successful British fighter pilot.
Marne, Battle of
September 1914, marked the failure of the Schlieffen Plan. A second battle, fought there in 1918, ended in Allied victory.
Martyr
Someone willing to suffer or die for a cause.
Mediation
Negotiation or arbitration.
Mesopotamia
A region of South West Asia.
Militant
Aggressive or combative
Ministry of Munitions
Established in March 1915 to address the shortage of shells.
Mitigate
To make less severe.
Mobilisation
To make ready or muster forces for military service.
Morale
Confidence or spirits
Moroccan Crisis
An attempt to split the Anglo-French 'Entente Cordiale' in 1906
Munitionette
Name given to woman who worked in a munitions factory.
Munitions
Weapons i.e. shells
 
Naivety
Innocence or gullibility
Naval Arms Race
Term given to the competition between Germany and Britain to out-build each other’s Navy.
Neutral
Does not take sides, impartial.
Neuve Chapelle
Battle in the Artois region of France, 10-13 March 1915.
Nicholas II, Tsar
Last Emperor of Russia. He was overthrown in the Russian Revolution.
Night patrols
Practice of keeping guard or monitoring enemy positions, by night.
No-man's land
The barren territory that lay between the opposing Allied and German trenches on the Western Front.
Northcliffe, Lord Alfred
Powerful British newspaper tycoon
 
Obligation
Duty or responsibility to
Offensive
An attack or assault
Owen, Wilfred
Soldier and celebrated war poet. He served in the First World War from 1915 until he was killed in 1918, a week before peace was declared.
Order of the White Feather
Group of women who handed out white feathers to non-uniformed men to shame them into joining up.
Orlando, Vittorio
Prime Minister of Italy 1917-1919.
Over-the–top
Term given to the act of climbing out of a trench and going forward into battle.
 
Pacifism
Belief that conflict should be settled by peaceful means.
Pacifist
Peacekeeper or anti-War
PALs
Name given to the men from the same town or trade who were encouraged to join up together.
Pankhurst, Emmeline
The famous British woman suffragist. She founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903, aimed at giving women the vote and greater social freedom. On the outbreak of World War I, she turned her powers of leadership from the suffragist movement to the war effort.
Parson
A member of the Clergy e.g. priest or vicar.
Peer group pressure
Pressure to conform or agree with the beliefs or actions of a dominant social group.
Peninsula
Neck of land or cape that juts out from the land.
Pivotal
Industries like mining, building, engineering had to be kept going to make jobs for other people.
Poison gas
First used as a weapon at the second Battle of Ypres. It could cause temporary blindness and suffocation.
Portrayal
Representation or description
Premeditated
Planned or intentional
Primary Source
First hand evidence
Princip, Gavrilo
A member of the Serbian Black Hand Gang, he assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, during his visit to Sarajevo on 28 June 1914
Propaganda
Information given to show something or someone in a biased way
Prosecute
To put on trial or act against
Punitive
To exact punishment
 
Rank
Position or level
Rank and file
The ordinary members
Rasputin, Grigori
Russian monk who exerted much influence over Tsar Nicholas II and the Tsarina.
Ration (or rationing)
A limited portion or allowance of food or goods
Rawlinson, General Sir Henry
Field Commander during the First World War and British representative on the Supreme War Council, February 1918.
Reconnaissance
Investigation or exploration or something
Red Baron
Nickname given to the famous German fighter pilot, Baron Von Richthofen
Reparations
Compensation or repayment
Repudiation
Rejection or denial of.
Retaliation
To fight back, revenge
Rhineland
An area of land extending from the northern borders of France and Western Germany
Richthofen, Baron Von
Famous German fighter pilot, also known as the 'Red Baron'
River Aisne
Place where the German Army took up a defensive position after the Battle of Marne, 1914.
Royal Air Force
Formed in April 1918 when the British Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service joined together.
Rudimentary
Basic
 
Sassoon, Siegfried
Soldier and famous poet of the First World War
Scapa Flow
Area in the North Sea where the British Grand Fleet were based during the First World War.
Scheer Admiral Reinhardt Von
Commander of the German High Seas Fleet
Schlieffen Plan
A strategy drawn up by Germany to avoid fighting a war on two fronts
Schlieffen, Count von
Chief of General Staff until 1906, he was responsible for drawing up the Schlieffen Plan.
Schweiger, Captain
Captain of the U-20 submarine
Second Battle of Ypres
April 1915. Battle in which poison gas was first used.
Secondary Source
Refers to a source that is not a first hand
Shell scandal
The term was popularly used to describe the shortage of shells at the battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915.
Shell shock
Medical condition caused by prolonged exposure to the distressing experiences of trench warfare.
Shop steward
Elected by fellow workers as the voice of the 'shop-floor' in meetings with management.
Sinn Fein
Meaning 'we ourselves' in Gaelic, it is the name of an Irish political party in favour of a united Irish Republic. It became active during the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland.
Slavic
Term given to peoples living in Eastern European countries like Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia and Bulgaria, etc.
Sniper
Hidden enemy gunman
Somme, Battle of
Major British offensive, July – November 1916. Biggest number of casualties suffered by the British army in a single day.
Sopwith Camel
A single-engine fighter aircraft introduced by the British in 1917.
Sovereignty
Highest power or authority
Splendid Isolation
Term used to describe Britain's diplomatic isolation and attitude towards foreign policy before the outbreak of the First World War.
Stalemate
Term used to describe the deadlock on the Western Front during the First World War.
Stand-down
Name given to the daily evening routine in the trenches.
Stand-to
Name given to the daily morning routine in the trenches.
Strike
A refusal to work aimed at forcing employers to accept workers' demands.
Strike truce
An agreement not to strike. In this context, it was to last for the duration of the War.
Suffragettes
Women who campaigned for the right to vote for British women.
Sustenance
Food and drink
Sweated industry/ labour
People work long hours for low pay in poor conditions
 
Tactics
Plan of action of strategy to achieve particular objective.
Testament
Witness, proof of
Third Battle of Ypres
The last great battle of attrition, 1917. More commonly known as Passchendaele.
Tirpitz, Admiral Alfred Von
Secretary of State and Grand Admiral of the German Navy
Torpedo
A self-propelled missile fired from a ship, submarine or aircraft that explodes on impact.
Total War
Organisation of whole countries, its people and products, to provide for the war machine
Trade Union
A group of employees organised to exercise some influence over the labour market.
Trade Unionist
Member of a trade union
Trench fever
An influenza-like disease spread by lice
Trench Foot
A rotting disease of the feet caused by overexposure to the cold and damp of the trenches.
Trench warfare
Form of fighting whereby two sides fight each other from opposing trenches
Triple Alliance
Name of the defensive alliance between Germany, Austro-Hungary and Italy
Triple Entente
Name of the French, British and Russian partnership of the First World War.
Trotsky, Leon
A member of the Bolshevik (Communist) Party he became Commissar of War after the Russian Revolution, 1917 until 1927.
Turner, Captain
Captain of the Lusitania
 
U-20
German U-boat that sunk the Lusitania.
U-boat
German submarine, taken from the German 'Unterseeboat'
Ultimatum
Terms presented by one power (or group of powers) to another
Unionisation
Growth or development of Trade Unions
Unrestricted Submarine Warfare
Policy adopted by the German Navy to stop supplies of food and resources from reaching Britain.
Utmost
Greatest or furthest
 
Vanquished
To be conquered or beaten
Vanquishers
Conquerors or defeaters
Verdun
The setting of a major German offensive against the French in 1916
Vickers Machine Gun
The standard heavy machine gun used by the British Army from 1912.
Voluntary Aid Detachments
VADs, formed in 1909 to provide medical help in times of war.
Volunteer Army
Name given to British troops who answered Lord Kitcheners calls for recruitment.
 
War fatalism
An offhand attitude to war owing to the belief that actions are predetermined and therefore unavoidable.
War Propaganda Bureau
Set up by Lloyd George, August 1914 to encourage public support for the War.
Western Front
The name given to the stretch of land in France and Belgium between the North coast and the Swiss border that saw the bulk of the action in the First World War.
Wilhelm II, Kaiser
The last Emperor of Germany. He abdicated the throne in 1918.
Wilson, President Woodrow
President of the United States 1912-1920.
Women's Land Army
Established to help produce more food supplies and goods to sustain the war effort.
Women's Auxiliary Corps
WAACs were used to release men from administrative jobs so they could join the fighting.
Women's Royal Air Force
Branch of the Royal Air Force formed in April 1918. Also known as the WARF.
Women's Royal Naval Service
Formed in 1916, they were also known as the Wrens (or WRNS)
 
Ypres
Town in Belgium that was the scene of three major battles in the First World War.
 
Zeppelin
Large, hydrogen filled airships named after Count Alfred Von Zeppelin.
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