Cold War Vocabulary

By: Destiny Haskins

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Arms race

Arms race is a competition between nations for superiority in the development and accumulation of weapons

Fallout shelters

Fallout shelters are an enclosed space specially designed to protect occupants from radioactive debris or fallout resulting from a nuclear explosion

House Un-American Activities Committe

The House Un-American Activities Committee was created to investigate disloyalty and subversive organizations

Alger Hiss

Alger Hiss was an American government official who was accused of being a Soviet spy in 1948.

Rosenberg Case

The Rosenberg Case was a case in which a couple was accused of selling nuclear secrets to the Russians.

Joseph McCarthy

Joseph McCarthy was an American politician who served as a U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957.

Hollywood blacklist

Hollywood blacklisting was the practice of denying employment to screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other American entertainment professionals during the mid-20th century because of their suspected Communist sympathy or membership.

Space Race

The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States (US), for supremacy in spaceflight capability.


NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is a United States government agency that is responsible for science and technology related to air and space.

Iron Curtain

The Iron Curtain formed the imaginary boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991.

Berlin Airlift

Berlin Airlift- 1948–1949. At the end of the Second World War, U.S., British, and Soviet military forces divided and occupied Germany. Also divided into occupation zones, Berlin was located far inside Soviet-controlled eastern Germany.

Truman Doctrine

The Truman Doctrine established that the United States would provide political, military and economic assistance to all democratic nations under threat from external or internal authoritarian forces.


Containment was a United States policy using numerous strategies to prevent the spread of communism abroad.

Marshall Plan

The Marshall Plan was an American initiative to aid Western Europe, in which the United States gave money in economic support to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War II.

38th parallel

The 38th parallel north formed the border between North and South Korea prior to the Korean War.

Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur was an American five-star general and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army.

Suez Canal Crisis 1956

The Suez Canal Crisis 1956 was the joint Israeli-British-French attack on Egypt was the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in July 1956.

Geneva Accords

The Geneva Accords were agreements that temporarily separated Vietnam into two zones, a northern zone to be governed by the Việt Minh, and a southern zone.

17th parallel

The 17th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 17 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean.

John Foster Dulles

John Foster Dulles served as U.S. Secretary of State under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1959. He was a significant figure in the early Cold War era, advocating an aggressive stance against Communism throughout the world.

Massive Retaliation

Massive Retaliation also known as a massive response or massive deterrence, is a military doctrine and nuclear strategy in which a state commits itself to retaliate in much greater force in the event of an attack.

Central Intelligence Agency

Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the U.S. Government, tasked with gathering, processing and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence.


NATO is an alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe committed to fulfilling the goals of the North Atlantic Treaty signed on 4 April 1949.

Warsaw Pact

The Warsaw Pact was a collective defense treaty among the Soviet Union and seven other Soviet satellite states in Central and Eastern Europe in existence during the Cold War.


SEATO was an international organization for collective defense in Southeast Asia created by the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, or Manila Pact, signed in September 1954.

U-2 Incident

The U-2 Incident was when a United States U-2 spy plane was shot down while in Soviet airspace.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro is a Cuban politician and revolutionary who governed the Republic of Cuba as its Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as its President from 1976 to 2008.

Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the CIA-sponsored paramilitary group.

Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union concerning Soviet ballistic missiles deployment in Cuba.


Brinkmanship is a term coined during the Cold War to describe the tactic of seeming to approach the verge of war in order to persuade one's opposition to retreat.