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  1. a hostile encounter or engagement between opposing military forces: the battle of Waterloo.
  2. participation in such hostile encounters or engagements: wounds received in battle.
  3. a fight between two persons or animals: ordering a trial by battle to settle the dispute.
  4. any conflict or struggle: a battle for control of the Senate.
  5. Archaic. a battalion.
verb (used without object), bat·tled, bat·tling.
  1. to engage in battle: ready to battle with the enemy.
  2. to work very hard or struggle; strive: to battle for freedom.
verb (used with object), bat·tled, bat·tling.
  1. to fight (a person, army, cause, etc.): We battled strong winds and heavy rains in our small boat.
  2. to force or accomplish by fighting, struggling, etc.: He battled his way to the top of his profession.
  1. give/do battle, to enter into conflict; fight: He was ready to do battle for his beliefs.

Origin of battle

1250–1300; Middle English bataile < Old French < Vulgar Latin *battālia for Late Latin battuālia (neuter plural) gladiatorial exercises, equivalent to battu(ere) to strike (see bate2) + -ālia, neuter plural of -ālis -al2
Related formsbat·tler, noun

Synonyms for battle

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Synonym study

1. Battle, action, skirmish mean a conflict between organized armed forces. A battle is a prolonged and general conflict pursued to a definite decision: the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. A skirmish is a slight engagement, often on the periphery of an area of battle: several minor skirmishes. An action can be a battle or a skirmish or can refer to actual fighting or combat: a major military action; action along the border; He saw action in the campaign.


verb (used with object), bat·tled, bat·tling. Archaic.
  1. to furnish (a building or wall) with battlements; crenelate.

Origin of battle

1300–50; Middle English batailen < Middle French bataillier to provide with batailles. See battlement Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for battle

Contemporary Examples of battle

Historical Examples of battle

  • The Assyrians marched against the Egyptians and defeated them in battle.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • The battle was disastrous for the Egyptians and the valley of the Nile was open to the invaders.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • No stones or other missiles were used; the battle was fist to fist.

  • The first sign of unwariness would begin and end the battle.

  • My heart leaped into my throat, as it were, and I made ready for battle.

    Biography of a Slave

    Charles Thompson

British Dictionary definitions for battle


  1. a fight between large armed forces; military or naval engagement; combat
  2. conflict; contention; strugglehis battle for recognition
  3. do battle, give battle or join battle to start fighting
  1. (when intr , often foll by against, for, or with) to fight in or as if in military combat; contend (with)she battled against cancer
  2. to struggle in order to achieve something or arrive somewherehe battled through the crowd
  3. (intr) Australian to scrape a living, esp by doing odd jobs
Derived Formsbattler, noun

Word Origin for battle

C13: from Old French bataile, from Late Latin battālia exercises performed by soldiers, from battuere to beat


  1. a town in SE England, in East Sussex: site of the Battle of Hastings (1066); medieval abbey. Pop: 5190 (2001)


  1. Kathleen . born 1948, US opera singer: a coloratura soprano, she made her professional debut in 1972 and sang with New York City's Metropolitan Opera (1977–94)
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 battle

c.1300, from Old French bataille "battle, single combat," also "inner turmoil, harsh circumstances; army, body of soldiers," from Late Latin battualia "exercise of soldiers and gladiators in fighting and fencing," from Latin battuere "to beat, to strike" (see batter (v.)). Phrase battle royal "fight involving several combatants" is from 1670s.


early 14c., "to fight," from French batailler (12c.), from bataille (see battle (n.)). Related: Battled; battling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with battle


see half the battle; losing battle; pitched battle.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.