The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Battle \Bat"tle\, n. [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;
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.
3. A division of an army; a battalion. [Obs.]
The king divided his army into three battles.
The cavalry, by way of distinction, was called the
battle, and on it alone depended the fate of every
4. The main body, as distinct from the van and rear;
battalia. [Obs.] --Hayward.
Note: 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; battle array; battle song.
Battle piece, a painting, or a musical composition,
representing a battle.
(a) A fight between several gamecocks, where the one that
stands longest is the victor. --Grose.
(b) A contest with fists or cudgels in which more than two
are engaged; a m[^e]l['e]e. --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
Wager of battle. See under Wager, n.
Syn: Conflict; encounter; contest; action.
Usage: 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.