According to the Department of Defense (DoD), limited war is defined
as, "Armed conflict short of general war, exclusive of incidents,
involving the overt engagement of the military forces of two or more
On the other hand, general war or total war is defined as "Armed
conflict between major powers in which the total resources of the
belligerents are employed, and the national survival of a major
belligerent is in jeopardy."
According to the above definitions, limited war would involve a
country declaring war on another nation or nations that did not pose a
serious threat to the existence of that country, and limited the
amount of finances and equipment used in the conflict. In a total
war, a nation would be at war with another nation in which at least
one of the nations involved had its independence or existence
seriously threatened, and thus employed an unlimited amount of
finances and resources to attempt to win the war and save themselves.
Basically, in a limited war a country is conservative of their
resources due to a lack of a serious threat, with the opposite being
true in a total war situation.
I typed "limited war" into Google, and found the following page:
http://www.fas.org/news/reference/lexicon/del.htm. After obtaining
the definition of limited war, I went to
http://www.fas.org/news/reference/lexicon/ded.htm and obtained the
definition of general war.
Hope this helps,