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

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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

Synonyms: Verb (1)

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Regardless of whether the president wins or loses re-election, there will likely be a spirited battle for the GOP 2024 nomination – and for the future of the party in a post-Trump world. Fox News, "Cotton stirs 2024 speculation with New Hampshire trip to help Republicans," 1 Aug. 2020 In addition, one recent paper raised questions about whether lab conditions, using pathogens like M. brunneum, necessarily do much to reflect the disease conditions that colonies battle in the wild. Michael Schulson, Wired, "What Can Ants and Bees Teach Us About Containing Disease?," 1 Aug. 2020 Over the past two to three weeks, the daily number of new cases reported by the state Health Department has started to flatten, one of the first potentially promising signs in Arizona's COVID-19 battle. Brieanna J. Frank, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona reports 2,992 new COVID-19 cases and 53 deaths, hospital data improving," 1 Aug. 2020 Pettigrew, who started two games in 2017, was set to have to battle freshman Kole Taylor and another new addition in baseball player Nick Storz for playing time behind five-star freshman Arik Gilbert. Matt Zenitz |, al, "Veteran LSU tight end enters transfer portal," 1 Aug. 2020 However, the owners, who had been hunkering down inside the gym during this legal battle, defied the order, removing the doors from their hinges and refused to leave. Kerry Picket, Washington Examiner, "New Jersey gym owners reopen under threat of losing business license," 1 Aug. 2020 But connecting with the employment services agency is another battle. Washington Post, "Ten bucks left, no place to go: How the pandemic and a broken unemployment system are upending people’s lives," 1 Aug. 2020 For the Lincoln Brigade veterans, the civil rights movement was another battle in the same anti-fascist war. National Geographic, "The history of the raised fist, a global symbol of fighting oppression," 31 July 2020 Officials in San Mateo County flatly rejected the proposal, and for weeks, the leaders from all three counties waged a battle on Twitter. Rachel Swan,, "SFMTA votes down Caltrain sales tax proposal, bringing train system closer to a shutdown," 31 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Twins and Indians finished 1-2 in the AL Central last season and, to the extent these things can be forecast, were expected to battle in a similar fashion in this 60-game season. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Opinion: As MLB tiptoes around coronavirus, walls are closing in on 'mess' of a season," 1 Aug. 2020 Lorena Bader continues to battle the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control for operation changes nearly one year after she was fired as a volunteer without explanation. Helena Wegner, The Arizona Republic, "With director gone, some raise new concerns about Maricopa County animal shelter," 12 July 2020 The beta will introduce Crown Rush Solo, a free-for-all where 100 players battle one another to win. Washington Post, "Ubisoft Forward livestream: ‘Watch Dogs Legion’ gameplay; ‘Hyper Scape’ open beta; ‘Far Cry 6’ reveal," 12 July 2020 The warning comes as Kazakhstan continues to battle a rise in Covid-19, which has infected 53,021 people and killed 264 people so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Jessie Yeung, CNN, "Chinese officials warn of 'unknown pneumonia' in Kazakhstan that is deadlier than coronavirus," 10 July 2020 That's especially the case in states that have allowed bars to reopen ahead of gyms, with some fitness club owners opting to keep their doors open and battle their cases in court, blasting the public health edicts as arbitrary and unfair. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "Gym owners ask: Why close fitness centers while bars stay open?," 2 July 2020 In the co-main event, former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos will battle Jairzinho Rozenstruik. cleveland, "UFC 252: Miocic vs. Cormier 3 PPV fight card finalized," 13 July 2020 Even now, when the Treasury has pumped out money to battle the economic impact of the pandemic, the prospects for aid from Washington are uncertain. Washington Post, "Reeling from the loss of gas tax revenue during pandemic, states are deferring billions of dollars of transportation projects," 10 July 2020 On Friday, the United Soccer League, announced four groups made up of 17 Eastern Conference teams, including the Eleven, will battle for playoff spots when play returns July 11. Michael Mccleary, The Indianapolis Star, "Indy Eleven, USL will resume season in regionalized group format," 27 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for battle

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for battle

Last Updated

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Battle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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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

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