noun, often attributive
bat·​tle | \ˈba-tᵊl \

Definition of battle 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 archaic : battalion

2 : a combat between two persons

3 : a general encounter between armies, ships of war, or aircraft the battle of Normandy soldiers who fell in battle

4 : an extended contest, struggle, or controversy a battle of wits

5 : 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

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


verb (1)
battled; battling\ ˈbat-​liŋ , ˈba-​tᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of battle (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to engage in combat between individuals or armed forces : to engage in battle : fight battling for control of the bridge

2 : 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

1 : to fight or struggle against battling cancer two teams set to battle each other for the championship battling it out in the courtroom

2 : to force, thrust, or drive by battling battling his way through the crowd

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


verb (2)
battled; battling

Definition of battle (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb


: to fortify with battlements … beneath the battled tower.— Alfred Tennyson

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Other Words from battle

Verb (1)

battler \ ˈbat-​lər , ˈba-​tᵊl-​ər \ noun

Examples of battle in a Sentence


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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The couple finally divorced in 1994 after a protracted legal battle. Adam Carlson,, "Decades After Hit Man Killed Gucci Mogul, the Ex-Wife Convicted of His Murder Speaks Out," 13 July 2018 Nancy Patch Knapp, 76, formerly of Pittsford, VT and Colchester, CT and most recently from the Meadows in Rutland, VT passed away on July 10, 2018 after a courageous battle with Parkinson Disease. Hartford Courant,, "Nancy Patch Knapp," 12 July 2018 Becker, who performed along with Donald Fagen in Steely Day for more than 40 years, died on Sept. 3, 2017, after a battle with esophageal cancer. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "New York to Dedicate Walter Becker Way in Late Steely Dan Member's Memory," 10 July 2018 The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund was created in 2017 after a legislative battle about economic-development funding. Jim Turner,, "Gov. Scott dishes out last of 'job growth' grants," 2 July 2018 The legal battle between Cardi B and her former manager is heating up. Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "Cardi B Countersues Ex-Manager Shaft, Asking for $15 Million in Damages," 5 July 2018 Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's past writings that a president should not be distracted by lawsuits and investigations could become a flashpoint in what's already shaping up to be a contentious confirmation battle. Mary Clare Jalonick, The Christian Science Monitor, "Democrats raise questions about Kavanaugh's views on executive power," 12 July 2018 Thus in its campaign against Catholic schools, the Klan could claim to be fighting a defensive, not offensive, battle — positioning Protestant Anglo-Saxons as victims. Longreads, "Oregon’s Racist Past," 12 July 2018 WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's past writings that a president should not be distracted by lawsuits and investigations could become a flashpoint in what's already shaping up to be a contentious confirmation battle. NBC News, "Would Kavanaugh protect Trump from Mueller investigation?," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Hundreds of firefighters are battling the blaze that's burning cattle-grazing land and habitat for the imperiled sage grouse. Fox News, "The Latest: NASA says Nevada wildfire visible from space," 10 July 2018 Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, is battling legal troubles on all fronts. Jen Kirby, Vox, "24 hours in Michael Cohen’s many legal troubles," 15 June 2018 The Brewers had to battle hard for their three runs off Reds starter Tyler Mahle, who struck out a career-high 12 in 5 2/3 innings. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Reds 12, Brewers 3: Tight affair turns into laugher in seventh inning," 30 June 2018 Vergne, who had brilliantly worked his way as high as seventh after qualifying 17th, took a drive through penalty and had to battle hard to claim a single point in 10th spot in a chaotic finale. CNN, "Formula E: Lucas di Grassi wins in Zurich as Sam Bird boosts title chances," 10 June 2018 About 150 firefighters are continuing to battle a four-alarm blaze that has raged since the morning in southwest Houston. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "4-alarm warehouse fire reported in SW Houston," 28 May 2018 Fire crews in Longwood are battling a major fire in an industrial area this afternoon, according to WESH-Channel 2. Jeff Weiner,, "Crews battle major fire off State Road 434 in Longwood: report," 13 July 2018 But the company is still battling thousands of cases involving its baby powder. Jericka Duncan, CBS News, "Johnson & Johnson still battling thousands of cases involving its talcum powder," 13 July 2018 The Yankees are battling for the AL East title, but have slipped to 3½ games behind the Boston Red Sox, winners of eight in a row. 2. Josh Land,, "Orioles on deck: What to watch Wednesday vs. Yankees, plus lineups, broadcast info and more," 11 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of battle


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb (1)

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

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for battle


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

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Statistics for battle

Last Updated

31 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for battle

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

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More Definitions for battle



English Language Learners Definition of battle

: a military fight between groups of soldiers, ships, airplanes, etc.

: a violent fight in which people use weapons

: a fight between people or groups in which each side tries to win a contest (such as a game or an election) or to gain control of something (such as a company)


bat·​tle | \ˈba-tᵊl \

Kids Definition of battle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a fight between armies, warships, or airplanes

2 : a fight between two persons or animals

3 : a long or hard struggle or contest the battle against hunger


battled; battling

Kids Definition of battle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to engage in fighting

2 : to try to stop or defeat battling a forest fire

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Comments on battle

What made you want to look up battle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express warning or disapproval

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