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 battle (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 battle (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 For much of the regular season, Florida’s hockey clubs were locked in a battle for second place behind the Carolina Hurricanes, who finished with 80 points. Laine Higgins, WSJ, "Florida Is the Hottest Place in Hockey—Not Because of the Weather," 11 May 2021 Kill The Noise and more to raise awareness for how people can help in the battle to fight climate change. Steve Baltin, Forbes, "The National, Bob Moses, Bonnaroo, Lil’ Dicky And More Team With Propeller To Fight Climate Change," 10 May 2021 But, despite Thompson-Robinson putting on a show with more than 400 yards of total offense, the Bruins fell just short in the battle for the Victory Bell. J. Brady Mccollough Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson approaches senior season putting teammates first," 10 May 2021 The fifth-place Hawks are locked in a battle with the Knicks, Heat and Celtics for the 4-6 playoff seeds. Roy Parry,, "What lessons can the Magic learn in their final four games of the season?," 10 May 2021 Why would these campaign types be purposely leaving out data that will, quite clearly, impact critical campaigns in the battle for the House majority? Chris Cillizza, CNN, "An amazing revelation about the GOP's willful blindness on Donald Trump," 10 May 2021 Ultimately, in the battle for a top-six seed, which would keep them out of the play-in round, the Heat got enough decisive late scores and stops to hold on. Ira Winderman,, "Heat make statement with 130-124 win in Boston, now need another," 9 May 2021 Dallas extended its lead to a game over Portland in the battle for fifth place in the Western Conference. Brian Dulik, Star Tribune, "Doncic ejected in Mavericks' 124-97 victory over Cavaliers," 9 May 2021 The left-hander scattered two hits and a walk and struck out three over his three-inning, 52-pitch stint in a battle of clashing styles against fire-balling Miami right-hander Sandy Alcantara. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers 2, Marlins 1: Tyrone Taylor, Drew Rasmussen deliver in the 10th inning," 9 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Why else would anyone battle a quahog, the most unwieldy of clams, too big and chewy for the raw bar? Korsha Wilson, WSJ, "This Classic New England Seafood Recipe Brings the Beach Home," 18 Feb. 2021 But this season, teams really battle two opponents: COVID and the other team. cleveland, "See the best photos from every Cleveland Browns game in this remarkable 2020-21 season," 15 Jan. 2021 Deby's death comes as Chadian forces battle the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), a rebel group based on the country's northern frontier in Libya. Ibtissem Guenfoud, ABC News, "Chad president dies in battle with rebel group, nation's army says," 20 Apr. 2021 Though the whole series is fun to watch — these are, after all, films in which giant monsters battle each other while occasionally knocking over buildings — some Godzilla movies are better than others. Keith Phipps, Vulture, "All 15 Classic Godzilla Movies, Ranked," 31 Mar. 2021 Desperate townspeople hire seven mercenaries to battle a greedy industrialist and his ruthless henchmen in the Old West. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘An American in Paris’; ‘Ben-Hur’," 26 Mar. 2021 The lovable, undersized Russian veteran is edified for his ability to battle in the crease, and never give up on making a save. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Behind an uncharacteristic night for Anton Khudobin, Stars come up short against Blue Jackets," 4 Feb. 2021 Earlier this month, Army North deployed military medical personnel to battle the pandemic in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. Sig Christenson,, "BAMC suspends elective surgeries as COVID threat grows," 29 Dec. 2020 The Allstate Sugar Bowl serves as a college football championship semi-final in which the Clemson Tigers battle the Ohio State Buckeyes for a spot in the final., "New Orleans events for New Year's and the kickoff to 2021," 28 Dec. 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

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Battle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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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