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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In honor of Father's Day, Paltrow brought up her late father, TV director Bruce Paltrow, who died in 2002 after a battle with cancer. Lisa Respers France, CNN, 15 June 2022 The process started last year when Kwanza, a male African lion the zoo, died after a battle with lymphoma. Howard Koplowitz |, al, 13 June 2022 He had been briefly terminated — and then reinstated after a six-week battle — for stealing two minutes of the company’s time. Greg Jaffe, Washington Post, 12 June 2022 After the battle, Walker wrote to Samuel Colt, the inventor of the revolver, to inquire about buying more guns. Phil Klay, The New Yorker, 11 June 2022 Jeff Bridges is back in action after a life-threatening battle with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and COVID-19. Marc Malkin, Variety, 10 June 2022 The actress died in April 2021 at age 52 after a battle with cancer. Stephanie Wenger,, 9 June 2022 In December 2021, Cannon's 5-month-old son Zen, shared with Alyssa Scott, died after a battle with brain cancer caused by the condition Hydrocephalus. Elise Brisco, USA TODAY, 9 June 2022 The roughly 300-person list was made public last month after a lengthy court battle by Baltimore Action Legal Team, a nonprofit seeking to make the legal system more accessible. Darcy Costello, Baltimore Sun, 8 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The images of the dead also remain with Christian, who was off-duty that day but drove to the Vendome to watch the firefighters battle the flames. Globe Staff,, 16 June 2022 All of it adds up to a collective effort to battle systemic problems associated with homelessness, incarceration, and food insecurity. Riddhima Dave, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 June 2022 One Southern California restaurant is helping families and veterans in the local community by offering free food as Americans battle rampant inflation. Fox News, 15 June 2022 These reports likely put further pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more aggressively in order to battle inflationary pressures. Chris Isidore, CNN, 14 June 2022 But the tables turned in the later years of the show as Sheen began to battle a series of personal struggles. Dory Jackson,, 14 June 2022 The need to battle high inflation would suggest a higher probability than usual that an economic downturn will result from this tightening cycle. Bill Stone, Forbes, 12 June 2022 Montgomery Steppe will face off against fellow Democrat Gloria Evangelista in November, while Moreno will battle against fellow Democrat Antonio Martinez. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 June 2022 Bheem is introduced with a training montage in the forest that sees him battle a tiger and a wolf. David Sims, The Atlantic, 7 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near battle

batting eye



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Statistics for battle

Last Updated

19 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Battle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for battle


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

More from Merriam-Webster on battle

Nglish: Translation of battle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of battle for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about battle


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