3. A division of an army; a battalion. "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)
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. Battle piece, a painting, or a musical composition, representing a battle. Battle royal. A fight between several gamecocks, where the one that stands longest is the victor. Grose. A contest with fists or cudgels in which more than two are engaged; a melee. Thackeray. Drawn battle, one in which neither party gains the victory. To give battle, to attack an enemy. To join battle, to meet the attack; to engage in battle. Pitched battle, one in which the armies are previously drawn up in form, with a regular disposition of the forces. Wager of battle. See Wager.
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.
Origin: 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.
(01 Mar 1998)
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