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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from battle

Verb (1)

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

Synonyms for battle

Synonyms: Noun

fight, fray, scrabble, struggle, throes

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The more interesting battle is with Apple’s MacBook Pro 13. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Razer's Blade Stealth gets a long-awaited upgrade to GeForce graphics and a Whiskey Lake CPU," 4 Dec. 2018 In fact, battles were part of the initial pitch when Pokémon Go was first announced back in 2015. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Niantic teases long-awaited Pokémon Go battles," 30 Nov. 2018 Members of the royal family and the general public gathered to mark the important anniversary, paying tribute to everyone who lost their lives in battle and who worked towards peace and the end of the First World War. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Wears a Buttoned-Up Black Coat to Mark the First World War Centenary," 11 Nov. 2018 Uber's battle in the Big Apple isn't over yet: New York's City Council has moved to cap the number of Uber, Lyft, Via, and Juno cars allowed in the city, in an effort to contain the exponential growth of the companies in the last few years. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "New York City May Cap Uber and Lyft Rides," 27 July 2018 The British lost 15,000 men to Napoleon’s 26,000 (though many other thousands deserted) in the battle. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "To Honor 'Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again,' ABBA Should Have the Song of This Summer," 20 July 2018 While engaging in battle in El Alamein, Egypt, he was captured by Nazi forces and remained a prisoner until the war's end in 1945. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Camilla Parker Bowles's Parents Didn't Like the Idea of Their Daughter Marrying Prince Charles," 19 July 2018 The couple have been in a long legal battle over custody of their six children Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, and twins Vivienne and Knox. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Angelina Jolie Has Split With Her Divorce Attorney Laura Wasser," 27 Aug. 2018 In a stark illustration of Goetze's battles over the past years, electronics giant Samsung has traced his darkest moments in a commercial. Christophe Beaudufe,, "Gotze, from World Cup glory to soccer hell in four years," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Firefighters battle a house fire on Thursday in North Andover, one of multiple emergency crews responding to a series of gas explosions and fires triggered by a problem with a gas line that feeds homes in several communities north of Boston. Paulina Dedaj, Fox News, "Boston-area explosions have Massachusetts governor declaring state of emergency," 14 Sep. 2018 Firefighters were still battling flames more than three hours after the explosion. NBC News, "Sun Prairie, Wisconsin explosion: Firefighter dies after natural gas main erupts," 11 July 2018 Firefighters were still battling flames more than three hours after the explosion. CBS News, "Natural gas explosions rock Madison, Wisconsin suburb, level buildings," 11 July 2018 Firefighters are also battling the 35,250-acre Klamathon fire in Siskiyou County, which is 30% contained. Andrea Castillo,, "'I have happy tears,' Goleta resident says after finding his home survived destructive wildfire," 9 July 2018 Firefighters are battling the 10-acre fire off the highway at Community Building Road. Joshua Emerson Smith,, "Fire triggers lane closures on I-8 near Alpine," 6 July 2018 Worcester firefighters battled a two-alarm fire sparked by a car that crashed into a three-decker house at the corner of Cambridge and Freeland streets late Monday night., "Worcester firefighters put out raging two-alarm fire sparked by car crashing into home," 26 June 2018 At its height about 120 firefighters were battling the flames. The Economist, "A burnt-out case," 21 June 2018 Crews were battling a fire located in the arched ceiling above the main lobby of the Kentucky Center. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "Two theaters suffered some water damage in the Kentucky Center fire," 14 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about battle

Statistics for battle

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for battle

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on battle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with battle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for battle

Spanish Central: Translation of battle

Nglish: Translation of battle for Spanish Speakers

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

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).


living or existing for a long time

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!