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Q: WMDs ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: WMDs
Category: Science > Technology
Asked by: moeron-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 20 Oct 2004 12:50 PDT
Expires: 19 Nov 2004 11:50 PST
Question ID: 417695
Who coined the term "weapons of mass destruction"?
Subject: Re: WMDs
Answered By: tar_heel_v-ga on 20 Oct 2004 12:58 PDT

The term "weapons of mass destruction" was first coined on December
28th, 1937 as a reference to bombing of cities during the Spanish
Civil War: "Who can think without horror of what another widespread
war would mean, waged as it would be with all the new weapons of mass

Etymologies & Word Origins: Letter W

The term became popular in the US after World War II in reference to
atomic and hydrogen bombs.  Since that time, use of the term has
varied in great degrees, however, it now is generally directed at any
weapons capable of killing large numbers of people.

Thanks again for a very interesting question and if you need any
additional clarification, please let me know.



Search Strategy:
"weapons of mass destruction" etymology

WMD: Where Did the Phrase Come from?

Clarification of Answer by tar_heel_v-ga on 21 Oct 2004 09:36 PDT
The only source, which I apologize for not mentioning, was an article
in the December 28th, 1937 edition of the London Times.

Subject: Re: WMDs
From: probonopublico-ga on 20 Oct 2004 21:31 PDT

Great question.

I would never have guessed.
Subject: Re: WMDs
From: probonopublico-ga on 21 Oct 2004 09:36 PDT
In those days, The Times did not typically give the names of those who
wrote their articles, so I would be very surprised if there was a

However, the next time I visit my local library, I will see if I can
check it out for you.
Subject: Re: WMDs
From: fp-ga on 22 Oct 2004 03:03 PDT
Apparently, it is not quite clear if this edition of The Times does
indeed include the term.

"When I searach the Times of London database for this phrase,
which claims coverage from 1915 to 1971, the first instance of use is
1954. I cannot explain why the database does not find the 1937 use" (Peter Brush):

"Apparently, the term WMD was not used in Dec 1937, unless we find the
exact paper of the _Times_ for that month" (Robert Whealey):

Perhaps Bryan (probonopublico-ga) is going to find the article in question.

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