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

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

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

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

  1. to contend with in battle or combat; war against: England fought Germany.
  2. to contend with or against in any manner: to fight despair; to fight the passage of a bill.
  3. to carry on (a battle, duel, etc.).
  4. to maintain (a cause, quarrel, etc.) by fighting or contending.
  5. to make (one’s way) by fighting or striving.
  6. to cause or set (a boxer, animal, etc.) to fight.
  7. to manage or maneuver (troops, ships, guns, planes, etc.) in battle.
  1. fight it out, to fight until a decision is reached: Let them fight it out among themselves.
  2. fight shy of. shy1(def 12).
  3. fight with windmills. tilt1(def 18).

verb fights, fighting or fought

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


  1. a battle, struggle, or physical combat
  2. a quarrel, dispute, or contest
  3. resistance (esp in the phrase to put up a fight)
  4. the desire to take part in physical combat (esp in the phrase to show fight)
  5. a boxing match

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.


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

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
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