In the current situation, there are calls for a 'ceasefire' and calls for a 'pause'.

Humanitarian pauses and ceasefires – what are the differences?

Chatham House org

But there exists a better word than 'pause' which I think is being wrongly used.

The word was used on Friday on 'Have I Got News for You', BBC 1, by Ian Hislop, the Editor of Private Eye. Mr Hislop used it in connection with the present situation and also related to the Day of celebration, yesterday.

Armistice, truce, and ceasefire have been used at different periods with varying degrees of overlap. In current international law, armistice is more narrowly defined than truce and ceasefire, in being a temporary (but total) suspension of hostilities by agreement between the governments of warring parties, normally (but not necessarily) for the purposes of negotiation. A total surrender may also be described as an armistice for legal purposes. Cf. ceasefire n. 2.

Oxford English Dictionary

2009 Achieving an armistice was one thing; restoring peace was quite another. G. R. Berridge, British Diplomacy in Turkey vi. 128Citation details for G. R. Berridge, British Diplomacy in Turkey

Oxford English Dictionary

Having just celebrated Armistice Day, should the word not be used as being better defined to the purpose than 'pause' . . . . . or even 'ceasefire' ?

It is an agreement to cease to be hostile to one another, at least until agreements can be negotiated towards a permanent solution.

  • An armistice is an agreement to cease hostilities, not merely to cease fighting.
    – Tevildo
    Nov 12 at 11:39
  • Is your question whether "humanitarian pause" and "armistice" mean different things?
    – alphabet
    Nov 12 at 11:46
  • "Pause" is used specifically to refer to a minimal break, both by those who want war but recognise the need for a short break, and more derisively by those who want a permanent peace to criticise those calling for 4-hour truces. Ceasefire means fairly obviously to stop shooting, so it seems apt. Armistice is more legalistic and hence less emotive, but also perhaps more final than ceasefire which is often temporary, so it suits neither side. (And the purpose of a pause would be humanitarian.) But if you're asking why terms are used by politicians your question probably belongs on Politics SE.
    – Stuart F
    Nov 12 at 13:53
  • 'Total surrender' seems a lot more final than 'temporary (but total) suspension of hostilities', so OED is saying the term is ill-defined. Stipulative definitions would be necessary for meaningful usage, but as I read the OED excerpt, current international law doesn't clarify. If these august bodies don't, the word remains suspect. Nov 12 at 14:30
  • Notwithstanding what the dictionary definitions may say about the meaning of armistice, most people nowadays encounter that word only when reading about the historical events that took place some considerable time ago; the term has acquired a certain old-time feel and is rarely used for anything that may happen nowadays.
    – jsw29
    Nov 12 at 17:29


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