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

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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

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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 stars of Division 1 head to Omaha, Nebraska, to battle for the national title. Michelle Krupa, CNN, "Start your Monday smart: Catholic bishops, Amanda Knox, NBA & NHL finals, Shinzo Abe," 9 June 2019 So perhaps there will be a little rust to shake off in Omaha, but the Cards would surely take that over having to exhaust their pitching staff in a super regional that turned into a three-game battle of attrition. Gentry Estes, The Courier-Journal, "3 takeaways from Louisville baseball's dream NCAA Super Regional," 8 June 2019 The ceremony originated from traditional preparations for battle. Washington Post, "Pomp, parade marks Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday," 8 June 2019 On the one hand, the cat and mouse, tit for tat battle between Liverpool and Manchester City was an enthralling and utterly remarkable title chase., "Premier League: Why the Rest of the Top 6 Won't Close the Gap to Liverpool & Man City Next Season," 8 June 2019 The Cubs, meanwhile, have a winning record and are in a close battle for first place in the National League Central. Eric Zorn,, "Thanks, Ricketts family, for aiding my transition from Cubs to Sox," 7 June 2019 The program would require a $27.6 million investment from the state Legislature over six years, a request that comes in the shadow of the ongoing battle for state investment in the state university system. Devi Shastri, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'The Silicon Valley of freshwater': UW System aims high, but is the money there?," 6 June 2019 But the fate of the Christie-era Economic Development Authority (EDA) incentive programs, and an investigation into how they were shaped, have blown up into a battle royale in Trenton, carrying over to prime season for budget talks. Catherine Dunn,, "Gov. Murphy pushes new tax credit proposals, amid investigations of current program," 5 June 2019 And in the battle for life, activists exercising the same rights of free speech and freedom of association that were carved in judicial granite in the 1980s and 1990s began the long, patient process of winning over hearts and minds. David French, National Review, "Against Conservative Cultural Defeatism," 4 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

After battling an injury during training camp, he was cut after the final preseason game and spent most of the season on the practice squad. Zak Keefer, Indianapolis Star, "Colts observations: Alie-Cox blooming at tight end, while WR battle heats up," 4 June 2019 Farrah had been battling the disease since 2006, according to the New York Times. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Inside Farrah Fawcett's Heartbreaking Cancer Battle," 24 May 2019 The 54-year-old personality has been battling a series of medical emergencies that began on Thursday, December 20. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "'Wendy Williams Show' Fans Think One of Her Guest Hosts Could Replace the Queen of Tea for Good," 13 Feb. 2019 Israel has been battling large fires caused by kites and balloons rigged with incendiary devices or burning rags launched from Gaza that have destroyed forests, burned crops and killed wildlife and livestock. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Israeli jets strike Gaza terror targets after Hamas launches dozens of rockets," 2 Oct. 2018 My wife had been battling cancer and this book was written largely in overnight stints waiting for results at the hospital and that sort of thing. Eric Johnson, Recode, "If you can quit social media, but don’t, then you’re part of the problem, Jaron Lanier says," 27 July 2018 Conflicts between the still-powerful military and a number of ethnic armed groups, some of whom had been battling for greater autonomy for decades, continued or intensified. Timothy Mclaughlin, WIRED, "How Facebook’s Rise Fueled Chaos and Confusion in Myanmar," 6 July 2018 Israel has been battling large fires caused by the flaming kites and arson balloons launched from Gaza that have destroyed forests, burned crops and killed wildlife and livestock. Wafaa Shurafa,, "Palestinians say 13-year-old killed by Israeli gunfire along border fence," 30 June 2018 Banks have been battling against Venmo’s popularity, particularly among millennials, with their own apps that try to mimic the service’s social sharing of money. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Venmo Battles Bank Copycats By Adding a Much-Desired New Feature," 25 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.

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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

13 Jun 2019

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 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

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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

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