Jihad is an Arabic word the root of which is Jahada, which means to strive for a better way of life. The nouns are Juhd, Mujahid, Jihad, and Ijtihad. The other meanings are: endeavor, strain, exertion, effort, diligence, fighting to defend one's life, land, and religion.
This word has been in frequent use in the Western press over the past several years, explained directly or subtlely, to mean holy war. As a matter of fact the term "holy war" was coined in Europe during the Crusades, meaning the war against Muslims. It does not have a direct counterpart in Islamic glossary, and Jihad is certainly not its translation.
War and Peace in the Qur’an
Fundamentalism and Islam
Q&A: Islamic fundamentalism
Types of Jihad
On the multi-layered concept of jihad
'Jihad' misused, misunderstood, scholar says
Levels of Jihad
Jihad in Islam: Preemptive or Defensive?
Sword of Islam
The meaning and scope of Jihad - Dr Musharraf Hussain
Jihad as war in Quran and Sunnah - Dr Musharraf Hussain
Terrorism, Islam and Muslims
Persecution and Killing of Muslims Worldwide