A hot war involves armed conflict between nations, and a cold war refers to economic, political and military rivalry between nations without actual combat. In a cold war, hostility between the nations creates an atmosphere of strain that has the potential to lead to violence and bloodshed.
After World War II, the Soviet Union and its allies were pitted against the United States and other democratic countries of the world. The hostility and rivalry between the two parties came to be known as the Cold War. Both sides resorted to economic sanctions, threats, propaganda and other measures without using weapons against one another.