[ verb kuhm-bat, kom-bat, kuhm-; noun kom-bat, kuhm- ]
/ verb kəmˈbæt, ˈkɒm bæt, ˈkʌm-; noun ˈkɒm bæt, ˈkʌm- /
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See synonyms for: combat / combated / combating on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), com·bat·ed, com·bat·ing or (especially British) com·bat·ted, com·bat·ting.

to fight or contend against; oppose vigorously: to combat crime.

verb (used without object), com·bat·ed, com·bat·ing or (especially British) com·bat·ted, com·bat·ting.

to battle; contend: to combat with disease.


Military. active, armed fighting with enemy forces.
a fight, struggle, or controversy, as between two persons, teams, or ideas.



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Origin of combat

1535–45; <Middle French combat (noun), combattre (v.) <Late Latin combattere, equivalent to Latin com-com- + Late Latin battere, for Latin battuere to strike, beat
3. See fight
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does combat mean?

Combat is most commonly used in a military context to refer to active fighting among opposing armies. To engage in combat is to engage in fighting.

This kind of combat most commonly takes place on a battlefield or warzone on the ground (called a combat zone). Aerial combat involves fighting in the air among air forces.

Hand-to-hand combat involves close fighting, often literally with one’s hands.

Combat is often used as a modifier (adjective) in terms that refer to things related to or involving combat, such as combat training, combat medic, combat fatigue, and combat boots.

Combat is sometimes used more broadly or figuratively to refer to active conflict between two people or groups, as in The two corporations are preparing to do combat in the courtroom. The term verbal combat refers to fighting with words.

Combat is also commonly used as a verb meaning to oppose or work to defeat. It’s especially used when the thing to be defeated is intangible or abstract, as in We need to combat climate change or Our organization works to combat poverty. The figurative senses of the verbs fight and battle are close synonyms of this sense of combat.

The sides engaging in combat can be called combatants. The adjective combative means inclined to fight.

Example: The objective of basic training is to prepare our soldiers for combat.

Where does combat come from?

The first records of the word combat come from the 1500s. It comes from the Late Latin combattere, from com-, meaning “with” or “together,” and the Latin verb battuere, meaning “to strike” or “to beat.” The word battle is based on this same root.

Combat most often implies physical fighting. Military combat on a battlefield can involve close combat—hand-to-hand fighting. This is how the word is used in the name of the popular and controversial video game series Mortal Kombat. The title calls to mind the term martial combat, which is fighting using martial arts.

When combat is used as a verb, it often likens the conflict to a military battle, implying that the thing that’s being combatted is a formidable opponent—that it won’t be defeated without a fight.

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What are some other forms related to combat

  • combatable (adjective)

What are some synonyms for the noun combat?

What are some synonyms for the verb combat?

What are some words that share a root or word element with combat

What are some words that often get used in discussing combat?

How is combat used in real life?

Combat is most commonly used in terms of military action. As a verb, it usually means to work to change a negative situation.


Try using combat!

Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of combat

A. warfare
B. action
C. peace
D. fighting

British Dictionary definitions for combat


noun (ˈkɒmbæt, -bət, ˈkʌm-)

a fight, conflict, or struggle
  1. an action fought between two military forces
  2. (as modifier)a combat jacket
single combat a fight between two individuals; duel
close combat or hand-to-hand combat fighting at close quarters

verb (kəmˈbæt, ˈkɒmbæt, ˈkʌm-) -bats, -bating or -bated

(tr) to fight or defy
(intr; often foll by with or against) to struggle or strive (against); be in conflict (with)to combat against disease
combatable, adjectivecombater, noun
C16: from French, from Old French combattre, from Vulgar Latin combattere (unattested), from Latin com- with + battuere to beat, hit
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
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