Definition of combat in US English:



  • 1Fighting between armed forces.

    ‘men killed in combat’
    ‘pilots re-enacted the aerial combats of yesteryear’
    as modifier ‘a combat zone’
    • ‘Close quarters combat training or kevlar armor plates will not save us.’
    • ‘The relationship between sport and unarmed combat is not easily seen at first.’
    • ‘Civil affairs officers naturally came under the control of local military commanders in combat zones.’
    • ‘In works of art, fighting between Amazons and Greeks is represented as similar to combats between Greeks and centaurs.’
    • ‘All four of his sons fought in combat in World War I and his daughter served as a Red Cross nurse in France.’
    • ‘We're still doing the hand to hand combat training too.’
    • ‘Unarmed combat (what many label as self defense) is different from sport.’
    • ‘I fought in combat with a very good digital battle command system that had some minor problems.’
    • ‘They were waging combat with a very tenacious enemy.’
    • ‘They trained in the evening in such things as weapons handling, unarmed combat and basic sabotage.’
    • ‘Yes, he faced lethal combat with the enemy.’
    • ‘In many of the frontline combat units, the average age was about 20.’
    • ‘By all accounts, there was intense close quarter combat in the city's refugee camp.’
    • ‘They have said they wanted to avoid urban combat for as long as possible.’
    • ‘Nothing about aerial combats in the area could be found in naval archives or period newspapers, but pilots who had once flown with the 367 Fighter Group contacted the divers on the Internet when news of the find emerged.’
    • ‘He developed a static device that used films to simulate aerial combat.’
    • ‘Each man began to engage the various others in intensive hand to hand combat.’
    • ‘One might criticize this volume for its overwhelming focus on the sharp end of individual aerial combats and its near-total neglect of many other facets of the air war on the eastern front.’
    • ‘We're now 21 days into the war, and most of this has been continuous combat with the enemy.’
    • ‘As night fell, the battle developed into a series of hand-to-hand single combats.’
    battle, fighting, action, hostilities, conflict, armed conflict, war, warfare, bloodshed
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    1. 1.1 Nonviolent conflict or opposition.
      ‘intellectual combat’


[with object]
  • 1Take action to reduce or prevent (something bad or undesirable)

    ‘an effort to combat drug trafficking’
    • ‘Everyone here agrees on the need for action to combat racism and intolerance.’
    • ‘There are things people can do to combat the stress associated with kicking the habit.’
    • ‘You can only combat social problems with reforms.’
    • ‘In recent months, the authorities have employed a variety of new tactics to combat speeding.’
    • ‘A person becomes empowered only when he successfully combats environmental factors that stiffen the path to success.’
    • ‘This occurs when the ambient air and wind cause convective heat loss, which the body combats by shunting blood from extremities toward the core.’
    • ‘I believe the public will support us in combating the drugs that cause the greatest harm.’
    • ‘Parents who contacted the group say no action was taken to combat bullying, despite repeated requests to school management.’
    • ‘In having sought to combat evil, we ended up being consumed by it.’
    • ‘Given the scope of the problem, we are taking measured steps to combat online piracy.’
    • ‘The charity is working to combat poverty, reduce isolation, defeat ageism and to promote quality in care.’
    • ‘He added that the statistics showed that they were successfully combating crime.’
    • ‘If you had a magic wand, how would you wish to combat corruption?’
    • ‘He saw custody as the only way of combating the drug problem.’
    • ‘As discussed above, prohibitionist policies and criminal sanctions have failed to combat the problems associated with injection drug use.’
    • ‘And each of these is effectively combated through gaining more experience.’
    • ‘At the top level, however, the sides chose to emphasize closer cooperation in combating crime and drug trafficking.’
    • ‘He emphasised that the Government was doing all it could to combat corruption.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the report found no existing joint efforts among any member states to combat trafficking.’
    • ‘Successfully combating the strategy of the transnational companies is possible only through a global response by the working class.’
    fight, battle against, do battle with, wage war against, take up arms against, strive against, contend with, tackle, attack, counter, oppose, resist, withstand, stand up to, face up to, make a stand against, put up a fight against, confront, defy
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    1. 1.1archaic Engage in a fight with; oppose in battle.
      no object ‘your men combated against the first of ours’
      • ‘He was determined to combat whatever foe had arrived to harm the infant princess.’
      • ‘The younger warrior with him jumped off his horse to bravely combat the enemy, but the enemy was better then him.’


Mid 16th century (originally denoting a fight between two people or parties): from French combattre (verb), from late Latin combattere, from com- ‘together with’ + battere, variant of Latin batuere ‘to fight’.