noun, often attributive
bat·​tle | \ ˈba-tᵊl How to pronounce battle (audio) \

Definition of battle

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a general encounter between armies, ships of war, or aircraft the battle of Normandy soldiers who fell in battle
2 : an extended contest, struggle, or controversy a battle of wits
3 : 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
4 : a combat between two persons
5 archaic : battalion
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 How to pronounce battle (audio) , 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 How to pronounce battle (audio) , ˈba-​tᵊl-​ər \ noun

Synonyms for battle

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb (1)

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Alicia Silverstone and her family have thrown their support behind Britney Spears amid the singer's ongoing conservatorship battle. Joey Nolfi,, 22 July 2021 In Michigan, Manville’s legal battle started after prisoner Robert Johannes lost a filling. NBC News, 22 July 2021 Even in the early Lichtenstein, the interpretive problem is present: Are those paintings of battle scenes and cowboys and Indians indictments of American expansionism? The New Yorker, 21 July 2021 Some won't even be able to see the Games, because of an ongoing battle between Mediacom — the country's fifth largest cable provider — and NBC. Neal Justin, Star Tribune, 21 July 2021 Whitmer and her adminsitration have used other laws to battle health emergencies, but this initiative process outlines a playbook for conservatives to take future action in a way that avoids a veto. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, 21 July 2021 Yet a bloc of Zuma loyalists has continued to battle for power with Mr. Ramaphosa. Joshua Meservey, WSJ, 21 July 2021 February 21-July 1916 - Battle of Verdun, France, the war’s longest battle, with almost a million casualties. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, 20 July 2021 And thus, another battle in the delivery app war commences. Jeremy Repanich, Robb Report, 20 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Great Wolf Adventure Park will offer attractions such as MagiQuest, a live-action adventure game where players battle goblins and dragons with interactive magic wands. Lorraine Mirabella,, 21 July 2021 The call for fire personnel also extends beyond those who physically battle the blazes. oregonlive, 17 July 2021 Then, the top two teams will play for gold and the teams in third and fourth place will battle for bronze. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, 16 July 2021 The paddock will be split into two groups, each given 10 minutes, and the fastest six drivers from each of those two groups will then battle in a 10-minute Firestone Fast 12 session from 11:30-11:40 a.m. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, 12 June 2021 Gustely didn't call a timeout the entire match, instead opting to let the players battle through each game. Alex Harrison, The Enquirer, 7 June 2021 Denzel Ward will start, while Greedy Williams and Greg Newsome will battle for the No. 2 job. cleveland, 7 May 2021 These are the greatest athletes in the world, and simply to battle each other three times a week on a hardwood floor requires incredible toughness. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 23 Apr. 2021 The film was centered around a Rambo-like hero named Leng Feng and his comrades, who battle a group of mercenaries led by a feckless ex-Navy SEAL along China’s southern border. New York Times, 7 July 2021

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 4

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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Time Traveler for battle

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near battle

batting eye



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Statistics for battle

Last Updated

25 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Battle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce battle (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on battle

Nglish: Translation of battle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of battle for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about battle


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