Truce, cease-fire, armistice, peace are comparable when they mean a state of suspension of hostilities or an agreement for suspending hostilities.
The first three terms are commonly interchangeable and each of them can sometimes replace peace , yet all four terms can so differ in emphasis and in connotation as to permit them to be used distinctively and with a degree of precision.
Truce is the most general term and can apply to an understanding or agreement for the suspension of hostilities or to a resulting suspension, not only on the part of military forces and nations but equally in the case of disputes (as between labor and management) and of individuals engaged in disputing.
Historically truce denotes an interruption of hostilities for a predetermined and specified period, and it remains the most appropriate term when this notion is prominent.
Truce also is appropriately used when the agreement is local rather than general or when there is a clear indication that no general or permanent termination of hostilities is proposed.
Cease-fire is the most recent of these terms and is rarely used except in relation to actual military engagement. Basically it applies to a literal order to desist from firing on an enemy.
As applied to a suspension of hostilities it may imply an intermitting of acts of active hostility for the duration of a period of negotiation or as a preliminary step toward a more permanent or more substantial suspension, but more often it implies a cessation of hostilities for an indefinite period of time with the warring parties, typically in a state of military readiness, remaining in the positions they held at the time hostilities ceased or withdrawing a short distance to create a demilitarized zone and without the implication of a permanent peaceful settlement.
Cease-fire may additionally suggest the intercession of a neutral party in securing the cessation of hostilities and in supervising its observance.
Armistice (in full, general armistice ) basically applies to a formal agreement at the highest level for the laying down of arms and a suspension of military operations; though it does not ordinarily suggest a permanent state, it does commonly imply one that persists either indefinitely or until termination of hostilities by a peace treaty.
But sometimes armistice (in full, local armistice ) applies to a merely local or temporary suspension and is then indistinguishable from truce in a similar sense. In its occasional extended use armistice usually stresses the temporariness and uncertainty of the state.
Peace (compare peaceable and peaceful under PACIFIC ) can denote a state of mutual concord between governments or more specifically the state resulting from the termination of hostilities or it can apply to an agreement by which such a state is attained.
Unlike the other terms peace imputes permanence or an intention of permanence to the state of or the agreement for suspension of hostilities.