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  1. disposed or prepared for battle.
  2. engaged in or beset by conflict or struggle.

Origin of embattled

1350–1400; Middle English; see embattle1, -ed2; def. 2 probably by association with the general sense “restrict, enclose” of many verbs formed with em-1, en-1
Related formsun·em·bat·tled, adjective


verb (used with object), em·bat·tled, em·bat·tling.
  1. to arrange in order of battle; prepare for battle; arm.
  2. to fortify (a town, camp, etc.).

Origin of embattle1

1350–1400; Middle English embatailen < Middle French embataillier. See em-1, battle1


verb (used with object), em·bat·tled, em·bat·tling.
  1. to furnish with battlements.

Origin of embattle2

First recorded in 1350–1400, embattle is from the Middle English word embatailen. See em-1, battle2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for embattled


  1. prepared for or engaged in conflict, controversy, or battle
  2. heraldry having an indented edge resembling battlements


verb (tr)
  1. to deploy (troops) for battle
  2. to strengthen or fortify (a position, town, etc)
  3. to provide (a building) with battlements

Word Origin

C14: from Old French embataillier; see en- 1, battle
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for embattled


"under attack," by 1882; earlier it meant "prepared to fight," and (of structures) "fitted with battlements;" past participle adjective from embattle (v.).



late 14c., "prepare for a fight," from Old French embataillier "to prepare for battle," from en- (see en- (1)) + bataille (see battle (n.)). Related: Embattled; embattling. Originally of armies; of individuals as well since 1590s (first attested in Spenser).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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