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 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 One of the Confederacy’s most prominent leaders, the commander led soldiers into battle at Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Statue of Civil Rights Activist Barbara Rose Johns Will Replace U.S. Capitol’s Likeness of Robert E. Lee," 23 Dec. 2020 Fans can tune into the battle on the @VERZUZTV Instagram page or on Apple Music. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, "Watch Keyshia Cole Cover Ashanti's Biggest Hit," 8 Dec. 2020 Jesse Katz takes a deep dive into the legal battle over Selena’s estate and who gets to tell her story. Los Angeles Times, "Latinx Files: Exploring Selena’s legacy, from concerts to classrooms to Netflix," 3 Dec. 2020 Instead of ending with a happy reunion, the saga of Fuz the cat devolved into a monthslong battle in Lake County court that culminated in an October trial to determine legal ownership. Clifford Ward,, "8 years after a cat went missing, a woman heard from someone who found him. Instead of a happy reunion, a legal battle ensued in Lake County.," 3 Dec. 2020 Every night, the officers announced who would fly into battle the next day. Ben Dooley, New York Times, "He Escaped Death as a Kamikaze Pilot. 70 Years Later, He Told His Story.," 3 Dec. 2020 Silberstein’s life depended on one, a year into a battle that began with mild symptoms that rapidly worsened as his condition remained unidentified. Mike Anthony,, "Mike Anthony: Yale soccer player Sarah Jordan celebrates ‘Gift of life’ with California man she saved by donating stem cells for transplant," 2 Dec. 2020 Last year, the beloved Today show star and organizers of the famous conifer's sassy Twitter account @30RockTree got into a very festive and very punny tweet battle. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Today' Star Al Roker and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Have Reignited Their Twitter Feud," 2 Dec. 2020 French paratroopers in Algeria rode their buzzing military motos into battle lugging their recoilless rifles. Cory Graff, Popular Mechanics, "Let's Remember When French Paratroopers Once Used Bazooka Vespas in Combat," 30 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Lawmakers in the House and Senate took the oath of office masked and in groups as Congress continues to battle the spread of the coronavirus in the Capitol. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "New Congress convenes with Senate in limbo and House Democrats clinging to majority," 3 Jan. 2021 Meanwhile, Bolsonaro continues to battle domestic rivals over the handling of the pandemic, with attention now squarely focused on the production and distribution of vaccines. Washington Post, "Brazil has the world’s second-highest coronavirus death toll. But Bolsonaro is as popular as ever.," 15 Dec. 2020 The state reported an additional 190 deaths of people with COVID-19 on Friday, with fatalities continuing to be consistently high in December as the state continues to battle the aggressive fall coronavirus resurgence. Jamie Munks,, "Illinois surpasses 14,000 COVID-19 deaths less than a week after hitting 13,000 mark," 11 Dec. 2020 This comes as India continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, with the world's second-highest number of infections. Vedika Sud, Esha Mitra And Amy Woodyatt, CNN, "Patients hospitalized with mystery illness in India have excessive nickel and lead in blood, officials say," 8 Dec. 2020 The spending and coronavirus aid package is especially large, however, thanks to additional federal money to help the nation battle the pandemic and other last-minute add-ons. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "'Bogged down': Computer glitch slows vote on massive spending package," 21 Dec. 2020 Despite the medical advancements to battle the disease, little is certain about long-term symptoms of COVID-19, including how many patients become long haulers, what can prevent the condition and what can be done to help. oregonlive, "‘I just can’t keep going’: Oregon long haulers wonder when – or if – they’ll recover from the coronavirus," 20 Dec. 2020 The army of white tables are prepped with supplies and spaced at least 6 feet apart to battle what health officials believe will be the most effective way to vanquish the coronavirus — through a vaccine. Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press, "COVID-19 vaccination stations in Macomb County set for those who get first dose," 14 Dec. 2020 No injuries were reported to residents or firefighters, with Vista Fire Department crews helping Oceanside firefighters battle the flames. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Four displaced by fire at Oceanside home," 7 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 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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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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