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bat·​tle ˈba-tᵊl How to pronounce battle (audio)
often attributive
: a general encounter between armies, ships of war, or aircraft
the battle of Normandy
soldiers who fell in battle
: an extended contest, struggle, or controversy
a battle of wits
: 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
archaic : battalion


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verb (1)

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

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)


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verb (2)

battled; battling

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
: during the stress of a struggle, argument, or confrontation
That's how we fight our battles in boxing … In the heat of battle we all say crazy things we are not accountable for. Bob Arum
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

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Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Going up the volcanic ash and scree is definitely a battle. oregonlive, 19 Sep. 2022 The Venezuelan vote has been a key battle between Republicans and Democrats for years. Steven Lemongello, Orlando Sentinel, 17 Sep. 2022 Accessibility and affordability in pet health care have always been a battle. Phil Wahba, Fortune, 16 Sep. 2022 The road to the Cape Ann title is shaping up to be quite the battle. Kat Cornetta,, 13 Sep. 2022 Jabeur finally found her groove early in the second set, with the two players trading service breaks, and then, with Swiatek serving at 4-4 in that set, locking into what was essentially a battle of wills for the rest of the set. Liam Hess, Vogue, 10 Sep. 2022 But, for Wendy Knecht, the bill has been a hard-fought battle that began when she was diagnosed in December 2014 with the BRCA2 gene mutation and a subsequent decision to reduce her risk of breast cancer by having a preventive double mastectomy. Melody Gutierrez, Los Angeles Times, 9 Sep. 2022 Or is validation enough that this is the right battle to choose? Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2022 Military operations in the south have been a painstaking battle of river crossings, with pontoon bridges as prime targets for both sides. New York Times, 7 Sep. 2022
But regardless if donors are saying it out loud yet, in terms of the zeitgeist, media attention, and polling, DeSantis has emerged as the key candidate to battle it out with Trump for the next election. Anne Sraders, Fortune, 8 Sep. 2022 Ray and Eilyn each have their own interior design firms and often battle it out for business. Topher Gauk-roger, Peoplemag, 7 Sep. 2022 What’s your Super Bowl matchup/who wins? Vikings and KC, my wife and I can battle it out in the living room! Daniel Kohn, SPIN, 7 Sep. 2022 Starting this week, the entire state of Utah will get the chance to enjoy the most dominant teams and up-and-coming players battle it out on the prep gridiron. Alex Vejar, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Aug. 2022 Instead, the seven U.K. cities left to battle it out to host the contest are Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 12 Aug. 2022 Trenches, howitzers, and even aircraft and tanks are facing serious challenges as the Russian and Ukrainian armies battle it out with one another. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 11 Aug. 2022 The Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs will face off in the 2022 MLB Field of Dreams Game on Thursday, Aug. 11, in which the National League Central rivals will battle it out on a baseball diamond surrounded by a cornfield. David Wysong, The Enquirer, 10 Aug. 2022 The death also happened as local officials battle over whether or not to build a new jail at the cost of some $500 million. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, 11 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'battle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 2 Oct. 2022.

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Kids Definition

battle 1 of 2


bat·​tle ˈba-tᵊl How to pronounce battle (audio)
: a fight between armies, warships, or airplanes
: a fight between two persons or animals
: a long or hard struggle or contest
the battle against hunger


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battled; battling
: to engage in fighting
: to try to stop or defeat
battling a forest fire

More from Merriam-Webster on battle

Last Updated: 23 Sep 2022

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