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bat·​tle ˈba-tᵊl How to pronounce battle (audio)
plural battles
: a hostile encounter between opposing military forces
the battle of Normandy
soldiers who fell in battle
sometimes used before another noun
battle gear
: a usually lengthy contest, struggle, or controversy
a child custody battle
legal battles
… Detective Madison spends the film locked in a battle of wits with a criminal who always manages to stay one step ahead of him.Brad Sanders
: a struggle to succeed or survive
her battle with cancer
… I came home and faced an uphill battle to gain support for the treaty in the U.S. Senate.Al Gore
: a combat between two persons
specifically, history : the combat by which disputes were legally decided
In spite of the appeal of trial by battle to the imagination and plotlines of Victorian novels and Hollywood films, it was an uncommon event. Norman F. Cantor
archaic : battalion


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verb (1)

battled; battling ˈbat-liŋ How to pronounce battle (audio)
; battles

intransitive verb

: to engage in combat between individuals or armed forces : to engage in battle : fight
battling for control of the bridge
: to contend with full strength, vigor, skill, or resources : struggle
They battled to keep their son out of jail.
battling over how to spend the money

transitive verb

: to fight or struggle against
battling cancer
two teams set to battle each other for the championship
battling it out in the courtroom
: to force, thrust, or drive by battling
battling his way through the crowd
ˈbat-lər How to pronounce battle (audio)
plural battlers
… will no doubt continue to be the Senate's boldest battler for … justice … John Nichols
… a player who sweats: a fighter, a battler, a tireless worker who never stops. Sam Borden


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verb (2)

battled; battling; battles

transitive verb

: to fortify with battlements
… beneath the battled tower.Alfred Tennyson
do battle
: to engage in a fight or struggle
… used to do battle with the fearless radicals of the Socialist Workers Party …Salman Rushdie
half the battle
: an important and necessary part of doing or achieving something
I think you will prosper, for the sincere wish to be good is half the battle.Louisa May Alcott
In the positioning war, half the battle is picking the right enemy.Ted Morgan
often used with words like only and just to stress that something is not enough by itself to achieve a desired goal
Selecting which partners and investors to woo is only half the battle. Knowing how to pitch them is equally important.Michelle Goodman
in the heat of (the) battle
: while fighting a battle
soldiers in the heat of battle
often used figuratively
When it comes to devising a game plan or making a key decision in the heat of battle, is there any coach you'd rather have than Bill Belichick?Brian Baldinger
battle it out
: to engage in a prolonged fight, argument, or struggle
The two sides battled it out in court.
… predicting that she and her 15-year-old sister, Serena, would soon be battling it out for No. 1.S. L. Price

Examples of battle in a Sentence

Noun That two-day conflict has become one of the most famous battles in history. The battle continued late into the night. Thousands of soldiers were willing to go into battle to fight the enemy. A police officer was injured in a gun battle that took place last night. The company was involved in a legal battle with one of its employees. the never-ending battle between good and evil
Recent Examples on the Web
Then, in a battle royale, Starfish and Goldfish of fishy proportions, the two battled it out to win Group A and move on to the semi-finals. Michael Schneider, Variety, 18 Apr. 2024 Books ‘Alienist’ author Caleb Carr — grieving his late cat — reflects on his life amid battle with cancer April 15, 2024 Right after Lisa died, people brought books to help me. Richard Harris, Los Angeles Times, 17 Apr. 2024 An Ohio judge temporarily blocked a law Tuesday that would have banned gender-affirming care for minors, a week before it was set to take effect — the latest juncture in the state’s months-long battle over the issue. Anumita Kaur, Washington Post, 17 Apr. 2024 There will be a lot of collateral damage in this battle, as DEI ideology has spread everywhere, including the medical field. Richard T. Bosshardt, National Review, 17 Apr. 2024 The motion, which was filed Tuesday and first reported by KTVU, marks the latest salvo in an ongoing legal battle with increasingly little precedent, given that a special master has never previously been appointed to oversee a federal prison. Jakob Rodgers, The Mercury News, 17 Apr. 2024 When two bumbling thieves (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) attempt to rob his home, Kevin begins an elaborately violent, slapstick battle of wits via booby traps involving a tarantula, paint buckets, and flamethrowers. Chris Snellgrove,, 16 Apr. 2024 Last season’s nail-biting seven-game battle was famously known as the I-80 series because both teams opted for the approximately 90-minute (depending on traffic) bus ride rather than the rigmarole of a short flight. Joe Rubin, Sacramento Bee, 16 Apr. 2024 Here’s everything to know about Amanda Knox's legal battles. Kc Baker, Peoplemag, 16 Apr. 2024
Over the course of the next two years, the couple battled out in court. Alex Gurley, Peoplemag, 16 Apr. 2024 Hedges is a leader of the Montana Environmental Information Center, where she’s spent three decades battling for clean air, clean water and a healthy climate. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 16 Apr. 2024 Guyton has battled injuries and had limited reps coming over from TCU after the 2021 season, but his flashes have been complemented by increasing consistency. Barry Jackson, Miami Herald, 15 Apr. 2024 The two were battling door-to-door, and Hamlin makes the pass! Shane Connuck, Charlotte Observer, 15 Apr. 2024 The proposal includes $60 billion to Ukraine, which has been battling Russia since February 2022. Elizabeth Beyer, USA TODAY, 14 Apr. 2024 The Kings battled back to get within six a few times on baskets by Mitchell, Sabonis and Barnes. Jason Anderson, Sacramento Bee, 12 Apr. 2024 Ford has also battled eye cancer, which led to him undergoing surgery about three years ago. Dina Kaur, The Arizona Republic, 5 Apr. 2024 Ford has also been open about his health struggles over the past few years, including battling eye cancer and the autoimmune disease Myasthenia Gravis. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 5 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'battle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English batel, from Anglo-French bataille battle, battalion, from Late Latin battalia combat, alteration of battualia fencing exercises, from Latin battuere to beat

Verb (1)

Middle English bataillen, borrowed from Anglo-French batailler, verbal derivative of bataille battle entry 1

Verb (2)

Middle English batailen, from Anglo-French bataillier to fortify with battlements, from Old French batailles battlemented tower, probably from plural of bataille battle

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of battle was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near battle

Cite this Entry

“Battle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
bat·​tle ˈbat-ᵊl How to pronounce battle (audio)
: a fight between two persons
trial by battle
: a fight between armies, warships, or airplanes
: a long or hard struggle or contest
a battle of wits


2 of 2 verb
battled; battling ˈbat-liŋ How to pronounce battle (audio)
: to engage in battle
: contend sense 2, struggle
battle for a cause
: to fight against
battling a forest fire
-lər How to pronounce battle (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on battle

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