Today the definition of terrorism is very different to how it was perceived in the late 18th century. At that time, in it’s first ever use of the word terrorism in the Oxford English Dictionary, terrorism was defined as government by intimidation. Although terrorism today is often regarded as fringe radical groups, non state or sub-government groups who attempt to deliver their political message through fear, initially the main perpetrator of such crimes were governments, and one in particular. In saying that, the original interpretation can still be defined today in the same way it was 200 years ago, but it is rare.
Why did the Oxford Dictionary describe the first use of terrorism as government by intimidation?
At the time of the first ever use of the word terrorism in the Oxford English Dictionary, the world, Europe, and particularly France, were amid radical political upheaval. The American Colonies had revolted against their imperial masters, and France had dispatched with the monarchy and all its pomp and ceremony, titles and honors. It was France in which the original definition of terrorism took its form