fit to fight: a boxer who's no longer in fighting shape.
tending or meant to stir up a fight or hostility: fighting words.

Origin of fighting

Middle English word dating back to 1300–50; see origin at fight, -ing2
Related formsun·fight·ing, adjective




a battle or combat.
any contest or struggle: a fight for recovery from an illness.
an angry argument or disagreement: Whenever we discuss politics, we end up in a fight.
Boxing. a bout or contest.
a game or diversion in which the participants hit or pelt each other with something harmless: a pillow fight; a water fight.
ability, will, or inclination to fight: There was no fight left in him.

verb (used without object), fought, fight·ing.

to engage in battle or in single combat; attempt to defend oneself against or to subdue, defeat, or destroy an adversary.
to contend in any manner; strive vigorously for or against something: He fought bravely against despair.

verb (used with object), fought, fight·ing.

to contend with in battle or combat; war against: England fought Germany.
to contend with or against in any manner: to fight despair; to fight the passage of a bill.
to carry on (a battle, duel, etc.).
to maintain (a cause, quarrel, etc.) by fighting or contending.
to make (one's way) by fighting or striving.
to cause or set (a boxer, animal, etc.) to fight.
to manage or maneuver (troops, ships, guns, planes, etc.) in battle.

Origin of fight

before 900; (v.) Middle English fi(g)hten, Old English fe(o)htan (cognate with German fechten); (noun) Middle English fi(g)ht, Old English feohte, (ge)feoht, derivative of the v. base
Related formsfight·a·ble, adjectivefight·a·bil·i·ty, nounfight·ing·ly, adverbout·fight, verb (used with object), out·fought, out·fight·ing.pre·fight, adjectivere·fight, verb, re·fought, re·fight·ing.un·fight·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for fight

Synonym study

1, 2. Fight, combat, conflict, contest denote a struggle of some kind. Fight connotes a hand-to-hand struggle for supremacy, literally or in a figurative sense. Combat suggests an armed encounter, as in war. Conflict implies a bodily, mental, or moral struggle caused by opposing views, beliefs, etc. Contest applies to either a friendly or a hostile struggle for a definite prize or aim. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fighting

Contemporary Examples of fighting

Historical Examples of fighting

  • It was for ever fighting someone, somewhere, for causes which did not interest the subjects at all.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • And yet, though I shrink from the idea of fighting, I might in some way help those who are.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • He has joined the Foreign Legion, and even now may be fighting.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • "Ask Allister what fighting had to do with the running of things," said Andrew calmly.

  • Tranter, cunning and wary from years of fighting, knew that his chance had come.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for fighting


verb fights, fighting or fought

to oppose or struggle against (an enemy) in battle
to oppose or struggle against (a person, thing, cause, etc) in any manner
(tr) to engage in or carry on (a battle, contest, etc)
(when intr often foll by for) to uphold or maintain (a cause, ideal, etc) by fighting or strugglingto fight for freedom
(tr) to make or achieve (a way) by fighting
(intr) boxing
  1. to box, as for a living
  2. to use aggressive rough tactics
to engage (another or others) in combat
fight it out to contend or struggle until a decisive result is obtained
fight shy of to keep aloof from


a battle, struggle, or physical combat
a quarrel, dispute, or contest
resistance (esp in the phrase to put up a fight)
the desire to take part in physical combat (esp in the phrase to show fight)
a boxing match
Derived Formsfighting, noun, adjective

Word Origin for fight

Old English feohtan; related to Old Frisian fiuchta, Old Saxon, Old High German fehtan to fight
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 fighting

present participle adjective from fight (v.). Fighting chance is from 1877; fighting mad is attested by 1750.



Old English feohte, gefeoht "a fight;" see fight (v.). Cf. Old Frisian fiucht, Old Saxon fehta, Dutch gevecht, Old High German gifeht, German Gefecht.



Old English feohtan "to fight" (class III strong verb; past tense feaht, past participle fohten), from Proto-Germanic *fekhtanan (cf. Old High German fehtan, German fechten, Middle Dutch and Dutch vechten, Old Frisian fiuhta "to fight"), from PIE *pek- "to pluck out" (wool or hair), apparently with a notion of "pulling roughly" (cf. Greek pekein "to comb, shear," pekos "fleece, wool;" Persian pashm "wool, down," Latin pectere "to comb," Sanskrit paksman- "eyebrows, hair").

Spelling substitution of -gh- for a "hard H" sound was a Middle English scribal habit, especially before -t-. In some late Old English examples, the middle consonant was represented by a yogh. To fight back "resist" is recorded from 1890.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with fighting


In addition to the idioms beginning with fight

  • fight fire with fire
  • fighting chance
  • fighting words
  • fight it out
  • fight off
  • fight shy of
  • fight tooth and nail

also see:

  • can't fight city hall
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.