noun, often attributive
bat·​tle | \ˈba-tᵊl \

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 , 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 , ˈba-​tᵊl-​ər \ noun

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 race was an uphill battle from the start—North Carolina’s districts have already been deemed too gerrymandered by the courts. Jenny Kaplan, Glamour, "I Watched My Mom Lose on Election Day. Here's What We Won.," 7 Nov. 2018 Even if there’s a significant increase from prior low turnouts by younger voters and Democratic-leaning Latinos, O’Rourke faces an uphill battle if Cruz can at least maintain the recent GOP turnout. Billy House, The Seattle Times, "‘Lyin’ Ted’ gets visit from ‘Sleazy Donald’ with Texas rally; will it help or hurt?," 22 Oct. 2018 Kobo faces an uphill battle in the US, but its integration with the Overdrive online library service could give it an edge over Amazon. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Amazon’s Kindle Oasis has a new competitor: The waterproof Kobo Forma," 3 Oct. 2018 The four-term congressman will face an uphill battle against the two-term incumbent Casey and Fox News' current projections show the seat is likely to remain in Democratic hands. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Barletta, Trump backer, wins GOP nod to take on Sen. Casey," 2 Oct. 2018 Why this matters: Intel and Micron's 3D Xpoint technology was hailed as a breakthrough when announced but has admittedly been fighting an uphill battle on its higher cost per GB. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Intel's 905P Optane reaches a tempting 1.5TB, but drive prices remain high," 21 Sep. 2018 So any battle in New York City is a critical one for both companies. Johana Bhuiyan, Recode, "Uber and Lyft are fighting a critical battle against New York City — and this time, they might not win," 2 Aug. 2018 The rideshare companies have faced an uphill battle in New York before, and come out on top. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "New York City May Cap Uber and Lyft Rides," 27 July 2018 The process of reuniting with their kids is already an uphill battle for many migrant parents., "How You Can Help Fund The Reunification Of Families Separated At The Border," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Kemp has battled Abrams over voting issues for years. Amy Gardner, The Seattle Times, "Without evidence, Trump and Sessions warn of voter fraud in Tuesday’s elections," 5 Nov. 2018 Megyn Kelly Today had battled low ratings ever since the show premiered in 2017, and there had frequently been reports NBC was trying to figure out what to do with the show. Megan Friedman, Good Housekeeping, "Here's Everything You Need to Know About Megyn Kelly’s NBC Exit," 26 Oct. 2018 Like other pharmaceutical giants, Bayer has for decades battled mass tort lawsuits in the U.S. alleging its drugs and medical devices sicken or kill people. Ruth Bender, WSJ, "Behind Bayer’s Tough Defense of Roundup," 23 Oct. 2018 Croatia -- the smallest nation to make it to the final since Uruguay in 1950 -- have battled through three periods of extra-time to reach the final. John Weaver,, "France seek World Cup glory inspired by Euro 2016 heartbrake," 13 July 2018 Karius has battled with Simon Mignolet to be Liverpool's first choice keeper in recent seasons., "Liverpool Fans Furious as Loris Karius Makes Another Huge Mistake in Pre-Season Friendly," 11 July 2018 Delgado has battled multiple injuries over the past year but has not pitched in a big-league game since injuring his elbow last season. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Arizona Diamondbacks place outfielder Jarrod Dyson on DL with 'lower core' injury," 5 July 2018 Junis has battled location for the better part of a month. Maria Torres, kansascity, "A career night from Francisco Lindor dooms Royals, Junis in loss to Indians," 2 July 2018 The candidates have battled over who has the best prosecution records. Pamela Wood,, "What's at stake in the elections in Baltimore, Baltimore County and beyond," 26 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

14 Nov 2018

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 \

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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Comments on battle

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