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  1. disposed or prepared for battle.
  2. engaged in or beset by conflict or struggle.
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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.).
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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.
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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
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verb (tr)
  1. to deploy (troops) for battle
  2. to strengthen or fortify (a position, town, etc)
  3. to provide (a building) with battlements
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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.).

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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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper