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verb (used without object), strug·gled, strug·gling.
  1. to contend with an adversary or opposing force.
  2. to contend resolutely with a task, problem, etc.; strive: to struggle for existence.
  3. to advance with violent effort: to struggle through the snow.
  4. (of athletes and competitors) to be coping with inability to perform well or to win; contend with difficulty: After struggling for the whole month of June, he suddenly caught fire and raised his batting average 30 points.
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verb (used with object), strug·gled, strug·gling.
  1. to bring, put, etc., by struggling: She struggled the heavy box into a corner.
  2. to make (one's way) with violent effort.
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  1. the process or an act or instance of struggling.
  2. a war, fight, conflict, or contest of any kind.
  3. a task or goal requiring much effort to accomplish or achieve.
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Origin of struggle

1350–1400; Middle English struglen, stroglen, frequentative v. (see -le) formed on a base of obscure origin
Related formsstrug·gler, nounstrug·gling·ly, adverbpre·strug·gle, noun, verb (used without object), pre·strug·gled, pre·strug·gling.un·strug·gling, adjective

Synonyms for struggle

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. oppose, contest, fight, conflict. 7. endeavor, exertion. 8. encounter, skirmish. Struggle, brush, clash refer to a hostile meeting of opposing persons, parties, or forces. Struggle implies vigorous bodily effort or violent exertion: a hand-to-hand struggle. A brush is a brief, but smart, and often casual combat: a brush between patrols. Clash implies a direct and sharp collision between opposing parties, efforts, interests, etc.: a clash of opinions.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for struggling

cope, try, toil, tackle, seek, strive, contend, grapple, compete, plug, assay, offer, scratch, dig, slave, grind, strain, hassle, sweat, undertake

Examples from the Web for struggling

Contemporary Examples of struggling

Historical Examples of struggling

  • “Vex not thyself,” said the old dame, as she saw him struggling with his sobs.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • As long as you were poor and struggling, Marian was welcome to you.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • The Little Doctor was struggling with the lump in her throat that he should try to joke about it.

  • It was as if some mighty pent force were struggling for release.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • There Bob enveloped him in his arms, struggling and kicking, and put him on the horse.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

British Dictionary definitions for struggling


  1. (intr; usually foll by for or against; may take an infinitive) to exert strength, energy, and force; work or striveto struggle to obtain freedom
  2. (intr) to move about strenuously so as to escape from something confining
  3. (intr) to contend, battle, or fight
  4. (intr) to go or progress with difficulty
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  1. a laboured or strenuous exertion or effort
  2. a fight or battle
  3. the act of struggling
  4. the struggle Southern African the radical and armed opposition to apartheid, especially by the military wings of the ANC and the PAC
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Derived Formsstruggler, nounstruggling, adjectivestrugglingly, adverb

Word Origin for struggle

C14: of obscure origin
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 struggling



late 14c., probably a frequentative form, of uncertain origin. Skeat suggests Old Norse strugr "ill will;" others suggest a connection to Dutch struikelen, German straucheln "to stumble." Related: Struggled; struggling.

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1690s, from struggle (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper