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 goalSelecting 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 battling (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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from battle

Verb (1)

battler \ ˈbat-​lər How to pronounce battler (audio) , ˈba-​tᵊl-​ər \ noun

Synonyms for battle

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But her stories of everlasting romance took on heartbreaking new meaning in January 2016, when Dion's husband, René Angélil, died after a years-long battle with throat cancer. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "Review: Celine Dion grapples with husband's death on emotional, triumphant 'Courage'," 12 Nov. 2019 Timothy Michael Demotses, 28, of Southington left this earth on November 8, 2019 after a long battle with addiction., "Timothy Michael Demotses," 11 Nov. 2019 The mother of two lost her brother on April 17, 2016, after a battle with cancer. Jen Juneau,, "Eva Mendes Remembers the 'Poetry' of Having a Baby One Week After Her Brother's Death," 8 Nov. 2019 Meehan died recently on Sept. 17 in her Riverwoods home at the age of 94 after a battle with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. Karen Berkowitz,, "Highland Park nurse Vivian Meehan, who put national spotlight on eating disorders in 1970s, dies at age 94," 8 Nov. 2019 Tammy Faye died in 2006 after a long battle with cancer. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "Are you ready for Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye?," 7 Nov. 2019 He was forced to retire from the Navy after that battle because a malfunctioning oxygen tank triggered latent tuberculosis. Chuck Yarborough, cleveland, "New ‘Midway’ tells the story of the U.S.-Japan battle from the viewpoints of those who fought it," 6 Nov. 2019 After a climactic battle between the slaves and planters, the rebellion was crushed. NBC News, "Heritage of resistance: Reenactment to honor slave rebellion," 6 Nov. 2019 He was buried Tuesday in Inglewood, California, after a battle with cancer, according to his close friend, Arne List. CNN, "A black activist took over a neo-Nazi group with plans to destroy it. He died before he could," 5 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Clashes stretched late into the night, as students and police battled it out on a bridge that connects to campus from across a harbor. Mary Hui, Quartz, "Photos: Hong Kong police and students are fighting a war in one of the city’s top universities," 12 Nov. 2019 While his young players were facing a challenging period of growth, however, Skinner also battled to keep the team’s biggest names from losing faith during a dismal season. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride coach Marc Skinner looks ahead to ‘do or die’ second season," 10 Nov. 2019 But Germany, still feeling the aftereffects of reunification, was battling sluggish growth and high unemployment. The Economist, "Revisiting the euro’s north-south rift," 7 Nov. 2019 Firefighters battle a structure fire burning off Highway 128 in Calistoga. San Francisco Chronicle, "Captivating cinematograph of the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County," 2 Nov. 2019 The UofL also took the time to celebrate 10-year-old Carter Willett, who is battling Ewing's Sarcoma, during the game. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "WATCH: 4-Year-Old with Down Syndrome Becomes the “Cutest Director Ever” for Louisville Marching Band," 25 Oct. 2019 In the first hour of Terminator: Dark Fate there is virtually no meaningful dialogue for any male character as three impossibly tough women battle it out with a killer robot from the future. Kyle Smith, National Review, "A Terminator That’s Low in T," 23 Oct. 2019 Beyond burgers battling it out for lab-grown supremacy. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Sure, Impossible Burgers Are Cool. But Have You Tried Lab-Grown Edible Muscles?," 22 Oct. 2019 Two Power Rangers battled it out in the couple's backyard, with the pink Ranger triumphing over the blue, revealing to the world that Mitchell was expecting a baby girl. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Shay Mitchell Welcomes a Baby Girl with Boyfriend Matte Babel," 21 Oct. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about battle

Time Traveler for battle

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for battle

Last Updated

14 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Battle.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 November 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for battle


How to pronounce battle (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


strength of mind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • pasta resembling wheels with spokes
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!