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

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 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

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 Trump administration paid $12 billion in farm aid to cushion financial strains caused by ongoing trade battles, according to the Associated Press. Bill Salisbury, Twin Cities, "MN farmers take $681M in Trump bailout to help stem trade losses," 8 July 2019 Sorry, not sorry': Border bill battle underscores Dem civil war Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. Fox News, "Trump blasts media over 'exaggerated' border detention center reports; Dem civil war over border bill," 8 July 2019 That continues a trend that’s been going on for more than a decade as keepers battle mites, pesticides, climate change and a baffling phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Nature takes its course: Bees flourish after heavy rains, keeping removal companies busy," 8 July 2019 Elsewhere, other domestic battles rage, as Bonnie (Zoë Kravitz) struggles to come to terms with her own abusive past and reconcile it with her love for her ailing mother (Crystal Fox). Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Big Little Lies Denis O'Hare teases Mary Louise-Celeste showdown: 'It'll get much worse'," 8 July 2019 The win comes after a season that was marked by increasing visibility of LGBTQ athletes, controversy, calls for equal pay, and public battles against President Donald Trump. NBC News, "U.S. women's soccer team win 2019 World Cup over the Netherlands in 2-0 final," 7 July 2019 Far from a traditional Disney princess, the battle-ready Mulan seeks to bring honor to her family by standing in for her ailing father when the draft calls for a member of each family to fight against an army of northern invaders. Sonaiya Kelley,, "Disney’s ‘Mulan’ live-action teaser trailer launches ahead of 2020 release," 7 July 2019 The 1971 decision launched an explosive chapter in American history, touching off a long and polarizing battle that set public opinion against busing for decades, even as the programs succeeded in promoting integration. Laura Meckler, Washington Post, "Effective but never popular, court-ordered busing is a relic few would revive.," 7 July 2019 Both men were elected at the same time — Symington as governor, Woods as attorney general — and embarked on a series of high-powered battles. Alden Woods, azcentral, "More cake, less scandal (and no UFOs): Ex-Gov. Fife Symington is still looking for his legacy," 7 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But so did a few others who will battle it out for the starting spot opposite of him, a competition that will ramp up heavily at the start of training camp. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Arizona Cardinals position breakdown: A closer look at the defensive backs," 7 July 2019 However, the business owners are battling the product’s connection to marijuana and overcoming legal challenges to create successful enterprises. Ana Goñi-lessan, Houston Chronicle, "Lake Houston area residents, businesses join growing CBD trend," 3 July 2019 Reuters/Stringer India is battling a crippling drought. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Amidst its many crises, India’s obsessing over an 18-year-old’s decision to quit Bollywood," 3 July 2019 Starting Monday and continuing through July 14, the world’s top tennis stars will battle it out on the grass courts for the world’s oldest tennis tournament title. Currie Engel, Time, "Here's How to Watch Every Wimbledon 2019 Match for Free," 2 July 2019 The higher ratings reflected the fact that the second-round matchup was largely seen as the main event of the two-night debate as Biden, Sanders, Harris and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg battled it out on the stage. Stephen Battaglio,, "Record-setting 18.1 million watch Round 2 of the Democratic debates," 28 June 2019 Brady and Manning battled it out on the field for years, often in the AFC Championship. Jasmine Hyman And Brian Ries, CNN, "Tom Brady posts a legendary selfie with retired rival Peyton Manning," 28 June 2019 The other three to battle it out during the game will be Winston Churchill, King Henry VIII and the Loch Ness Monster. David Waldstein, New York Times, "‘Hot Dogs! Cold Beer!’ M.L.B. Will Bring the Familiar to London Stadium," 27 June 2019 There were seven teams in the 9-10 age division who battled it out during the regular season as teams worked on the game fundamentals and player development. Emmett Hall,, "Braves secure PAL Little League Minor Division title," 20 June 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 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

11 Jul 2019

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 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

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).


a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
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!