battle Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a hostile meeting of opposing military forces in the course of a war
    engagement; conflict; fight.
    • Grant won a decisive victory in the battle of Chickamauga
    • he lost his romantic ideas about war when he got into a real engagement
  2. noun an energetic attempt to achieve something
    • getting through the crowd was a real struggle
    • he fought a battle for recognition
  3. noun an open clash between two opposing groups (or individuals)
    struggle; conflict.
    • the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph"--Thomas Paine
    • police tried to control the battle between the pro- and anti-abortion mobs
  4. verb battle or contend against in or as if in a battle
    • The Kurds are combating Iraqi troops in Northern Iraq
    • We must combat the prejudices against other races
    • they battled over the budget


Bat"tle adjective
  1. Fertile. See Battel, a. Obs.
Bat"tle noun
OE. bataille, bataile, F. bataille battle, OF., battle, battalion, fr. L. battalia, battualia, the fighting and fencing exercises of soldiers and gladiators, fr. batuere to strike, beat. Cf. Battalia, 1st Battel, and see Batter, v. t.
  1. A general action, fight, or encounter, in which all the divisions of an army are or may be engaged; an engagement; a combat.
  2. A struggle; a contest; as, the battle of life.
    The whole intellectual battle that had at its center the best poem of the best poet of that day. H. Morley.
  3. A division of an army; a battalion. Obs.
    The king divided his army into three battles. Bacon.
    The cavalry, by way of distinction, was called the battle, and on it alone depended the fate of every action. Robertson.
  4. The main body, as distinct from the van and rear; battalia. Obs. Hayward. Battle is used adjectively or as the first part of a self-explaining compound; as, battle brand, a "brand" or sword used in battle; battle cry; battlefield; battle ground; battlearray; battle song. Syn. -- Conflict; encounter; contest; action. Battle, Combat, Fight, Engagement. These words agree in denoting a close encounter between contending parties. Fight is a word of less dignity than the others. Except in poetry, it is more naturally applied to the encounter of a few individuals, and more commonly an accidental one; as, a street fight. A combat is a close encounter, whether between few or many, and is usually premeditated. A battle is commonly more general and prolonged. An engagement supposes large numbers on each side, engaged or intermingled in the conflict.
Bat"tle intransitive verb
F. batailler, fr. bataille. See Battle, n.
imperfect & past participle Battled (); present participle & verbal noun Battling
  1. To join in battle; to contend in fight; as, to battle over theories.
    To meet in arms, and battle in the plain. Prior.
Bat"tle transitive verb
  1. To assail in battle; to fight.

Webster 1913