Word of the Day


© PhotoDisc/Getty Images
Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a formal agreement between enemies to stop fighting a war

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun armistice comes from the Latin word ‘armistitium’, formed from words meaning ‘arms’ and ‘stop’. It was first used in English in the late 17th century.


Today is Armistice Day, a commemoration of the ending of World War I on 11 November 1918. The first Armistice Day was held in 1919, so this year marks the centenary of that event. An armistice is not peace but a prelude to peace. It indicates a cessation of hostilities, usually by agreement of the governments of the warring sides, often in order to negotiate. It is traditional in many countries for a 2-minute silence to be held at 11am, the exact time when hostilities ceased. While Armistice Day falls on the exact anniversary of the date when the armistice was signed, in the UK and some other countries a commemoration is held on the Sunday closest to 11th November, to allow more people to attend the ceremonies that mark the occasion. In the US the name Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day in 1954, in order to make it clear that the purpose of the event is to remember veterans and victims of all wars, not just World War I.


“All the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another.”
(Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions)

Related words

ceasefire, détente, peace, truce

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

Leave a Comment