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 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

Lincoln 32, Capuchino-San Bruno 6: Visiting Lincoln (1-0), the defending state 6-A champion, rolled as Luis Contreras rushed for touchdowns of 3, 55, 4, 12 and 67 yards against Capuchino (0-1) in a battle of Mustangs. Mitch Stephens,, "De La Salle gets back to winning ways, beats Central Catholic-Modesto," 30 Aug. 2019 Historian and professor Gary Highlander will discuss the largest and bloodiest battle experienced by American forces in all of World War II on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public., "Yoga classes, jewelry, and a WWII lecture," 28 Aug. 2019 Conflict Humanitarian forensic experts also help factions in armed conflicts fulfill their international obligations towards the dead in battle. Ahmad Samarji, The Conversation, "Humanitarian forensic scientists trace the missing, identify the dead and comfort the living," 28 Aug. 2019 Recognizing that the ideological battle is far broader than any specific policy domain is critical to breaking the Koch legacy. Adam Eichen, The New Republic, "How David Koch’s 1980 Fantasy Became America’s Current Reality," 27 Aug. 2019 The other battle has been at right guard between senior Roy Hemsley and redshirt freshman Jarrett Bell. Michelle Gardner, azcentral, "ASU football Q&A: Discussing Jayden Daniels, offensive line shuffling, Joey Yellen's future," 26 Aug. 2019 The Ivey-Blades battle was the only starting spot still up for grabs for the Hurricanes, according to the team’s depth chart. David Furones,, "Cornerback DJ Ivey suspended for Miami Hurricanes’ opener against Florida Gators," 24 Aug. 2019 The battle for the boundary safety job is between Brady Breeze and returning starter Nick Pickett, who led Ducks defensive backs in tackles last season., "Competition continues for spots on two-deep in Oregon secondary," 22 Aug. 2019 If the battle against Matthew Wright is close, the Steelers could go for the cap savings. John Clayton, The Denver Post, "NFL players who could become salary cap casualties before the season," 21 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The tearjerker, which Swift wrote with Jack Antonoff, is a get-well-soon ode to the singer’s mother, Andrea, who is battling cancer. Lauren Huff,, "Dixie Chicks hit Hot 100 for first time in 12 years with Taylor Swift collaboration," 3 Sep. 2019 Then there were the Steel Men, who battled in a Pitt., "Capt. Andrew Luck Bids Farewell to His Unit," 28 Aug. 2019 For the first time since training camp began, the 49ers had their full complement of running backs practicing Tuesday, including Raheem Mostert, who’s been battling a quadriceps injury. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "Brace yourself, 49ers McKinnon practicing, but Street IR bound," 27 Aug. 2019 Keep an eye out for quarterback and former Oregon State star Sean Mannion, who is battling Kyle Sloter for the backup quarterback position., "Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings in NFL preseason: Time, TV channel, score, how to watch live stream online," 24 Aug. 2019 Fans theorize the subject is her mom, Andrea, who has battled cancer. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Your Guide to the Many, Many References Taylor Swift Drops in the Lover Album," 23 Aug. 2019 Andrew Clawson caught eight passes for 93 yards and a TD at tight end and Javen Javero, who is battling Sammy Dennis and Nick Blanchard for playing time at running back, carried just 21 times for 79 yards and two TDs as a sophomore. Pomerado News, "Time for younger Bronco players to step up," 22 Aug. 2019 In lieu of flowers a memorial has been set up for her son Ethan, who is battling cancer., "Jane L. Powell," 20 Aug. 2019 On that day, Davis was filling in for injured Trevor Williams, who is battling Davis for the starting position this year. Andrew J. Campa, Glendale News-Press, "Glendale High’s Michael Davis continues incredible NFL climb with Chargers," 19 Aug. 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.

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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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Statistics for battle

Last Updated

17 Sep 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

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).


to make a temporary encampment

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