The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. defines concentration camp as: a camp where non-combatants of a district are accommodated, such as those instituted by Lord Kitchener during the South African war of 1899-1902; one for the internment of political prisoners, foreign nationals, etc., esp. as organized by the Nazi regime in Germany before and during the war of 1939-45.
Similar camps existed earlier, such as in the United States (concentration camps for Cherokee and other Native Americans in the 1830s), inCuba (1868–78) and in the Philippines (1898–1901) by Spain under the Restoration and the US respectively. The term finds its roots in the "reconcentration camps" set up in Cuba by Valeriano Weyler in 1897 to quell opposition to Spanish rule in Cuba. During the Second Boer War(1899-1902), the term "concentration camp" was used to describe camps operated by the British in South Africa. Ostensibly conceived as a form of humanitarian aid to the families whose farms had been destroyed in the fighting, the camps were used to confine and control large numbers of civilians as part of a scorched earth tactic.
Polish historian Władysław Konopczyński has suggested the first concentration camps were actually created in the 18th century, during Bar Confederation, when Russians organized 3 concentration camps in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for Polish rebel captives, where internees awaited deportation on to Siberia.