Definition of fight in English:



  • 1Take part in a violent struggle involving the exchange of physical blows or the use of weapons.

    ‘the men were fighting’
    ‘they fight with other children’
    • ‘We were always fighting with the other guys.’
    • ‘Within five minutes of the sentencing, court spectators jumped the railing, fought with officials and seized the defendant.’
    • ‘Two team members charged into the stands and fought with fans in the final minute of Friday's game.’
    • ‘He came and pushed me against the bar, then he and Joe started fighting again.’
    • ‘Her personal bodyguards fought valiantly to keep by her side.’
    • ‘Students were fighting and overturning desks and the teacher was shouting, ‘they're animals.’’
    • ‘A study found that girls as young as 13 are smoking, swearing, fighting, drinking and disrupting lessons in ever higher numbers.’
    • ‘Most experts agree that a person attacked by a cougar should fight like hell.’
    • ‘Needless to say, I struggled and fought like hell the whole damn way.’
    • ‘The police were called by the bus driver after two pupils began fighting as the bus was travelling through town.’
    violent, combative, aggressive, pugnacious, truculent, belligerent, bellicose, disputatious, antagonistic, argumentative, hawkish
    brawl, come to blows, exchange blows, assault each other, attack each other, hit each other, punch each other
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    1. 1.1with object Engage in (a war or battle)
      ‘there was another war to fight’
      • ‘A bloody battle fought bravely to the end.’
      • ‘People come and go, epochs change, battles are fought, wars won and lost, but India exists.’
      • ‘The 1914-18 war was mainly fought on battlefields.’
      • ‘He returns to battle and fights, pushing ever closer to the walls of the city.’
      • ‘A division's ability to fight is based on its ability to sustain and replenish itself.’
      • ‘The rebels fought hard to retake a former stronghold.’
      • ‘If your conscience won't allow you to fight for your country you can now apply for permission not to perform military or combatant duties.’
      • ‘They know that these wars were not fought primarily for their rights.’
      • ‘Never mind the billions of innocent civilians there, or the brave warriors fighting to defend them.’
      • ‘Usually the insurgents fight to the death, if you will.’
      • ‘Roy spent five years in German prison camps after he was captured while fighting against the Nazis in Norway.’
      • ‘You know the villagers, they'll stay here and fight to the end.’
      • ‘The Senator has even disregarded the contributions of those who are fighting for their freedom.’
      • ‘He fought in France during World War I and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1914 to 1923.’
      • ‘With their customary bravery, most Japanese soldiers fought to the death.’
      • ‘For 30 years now, guerrillas have been fighting for independence for the people of the islands.’
      • ‘The people of Arnhem yesterday welcomed back the old soldiers who fought so bravely to free them 60 years ago.’
      battle, do battle, give battle, wage war, go to war, make war, take up arms
      engage in, wage, conduct, prosecute, carry on, pursue, undertake, practise, proceed with, go on with
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    2. 1.2
      no object ‘we fought and died for this country’
    3. 1.3 Quarrel or argue.
      ‘she didn't want to fight with her mother all the time’
      ‘they were fighting over who pays the bill’
      • ‘They have been fighting over custody issues for an epic two years.’
      • ‘We have been very careful not to shout or fight around the kids but they are still suffering.’
      • ‘Does your child hear you talking about troubles at work or fighting with your spouse about financial matters?’
      • ‘Now they are fighting over who should be in charge and who doesn't deserve to be.’
      • ‘George I and his son shared a deep mutual dislike for each other, were political opposites, and fought constantly.’
      quarrel, argue, row, bicker, squabble, have a fight, have a row, wrangle, dispute, be at odds, disagree, fail to agree, differ, be at variance, have words, bandy words, be at each other's throats, be at loggerheads
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    4. 1.4with object Struggle to put out (a fire, especially a large one)
      ‘two fire trucks raced to the scene to fight the blaze’
    5. 1.5with object Endeavor vigorously to win (an election or other contest)
      • ‘These elections were fought and ultimately decided on local issues, but the national picture is much the same.’
      • ‘For a prime minister who fought the election on improving public services, such increases look like thoughtless and tactless extravagance.’
      • ‘One or more of them declaring their candidature would really add spice to what is already promising to be a fascinating and very hard fought electoral contest.’
      • ‘It was the most keenly fought election in American history and one that went truly global.’
      • ‘This is particularly true here, where elections are mostly fought on race, not ideas.’
      • ‘With the news that Australia's leading wicket taker Shane Warne will be fit for the match, the game promises to be an evenly fought contest.’
      • ‘Way back in the last century in rural areas elections were fought and won at the church gates and also in the local towns.’
      • ‘The pundits tell us that this entire election was fought over a difference of opinion about how to spend 2% of our GDP.’
      • ‘Labour candidates fought the election in Whitworth on that issue.’
      • ‘This was a keenly fought contest between two evenly matched teams.’
      • ‘It is a contest being fought by e-mail, direct mail and telephone, alongside the traditional door knock.’
      • ‘The attitude betrays a contempt for the very system people in the party believed in and thought they fought an election for.’
      • ‘The parties have fought this election by issuing dire warnings, squabbling about details and calling each other names.’
      • ‘Many former Nazis fought elections under the banner of the National Democratic Party with limited success.’
      • ‘A close contest was fought with the American Lisa Raymond on Court 18.’
      • ‘He fought that election against all the odds and was within a half percent of pulling off a spectacular victory.’
      • ‘It will be one of the most tightly fought political contests in North Kerry since the May general election but this time it s not about votes but appetite.’
      • ‘If the election is fought on domestic issues, the incumbent will probably lose.’
      • ‘The Lords' veto on the budget was overturned, and Asquith fought an election on this very issue, establishing the primacy of the elected Commons over the unelected Lords.’
      • ‘But twelve years ago an election was fought on it.’
    6. 1.6 Campaign determinedly for or against something, especially to put right what one considers unfair or unjust.
      ‘I will fight for more equitable laws’
      • ‘The plans have infuriated parents, who have vowed to fight for the unit where dozens of lives are saved each year.’
      • ‘Campaigners fighting to save a maternity unit from closure have won a stay of execution.’
      • ‘But four years later, we found ourselves once again fighting for our very survival.’
      • ‘Campaigners fighting to save the pub welcomed the club's interest.’
      • ‘Their crime was to form a union of agricultural labourers to fight for better wages and conditions.’
      • ‘If I was a man, would I push and fight for the recognition that I tend to ignore now?’
      • ‘It goes to show what we pensioners can achieve if we stand up and fight for our rights.’
      • ‘I'm gonna take everything I know and fight to preserve the black community.’
      • ‘His parents say they were numb and in shock while doctors fought to save Connor and are overjoyed by his recovery.’
      • ‘I have spent the last 25 years fighting to defend and expand democratic rights.’
      • ‘He was taken to hospital, where doctors fought unsuccessfully to save his sight.’
      • ‘The journey has not been easy, and Mrs Metcalfe urges other MS sufferers to fight for the treatment if they think it could help them.’
      • ‘Why fight for your freedom only to give it all up again?’
      • ‘"She is fighting like hell to stay alive," he said.’
      • ‘A group of Kingston doctors has united to fight for the return of the family doctor.’
      • ‘Meath, true to their county's battling trait, fought fiercely to save the game in the closing minutes.’
      • ‘In the small companies you are forced to fight for labour legislation and to keep wages up.’
      • ‘Last time I fought to get a vaccine was the chickenpox vaccination for myself - took me months to fight for the right to get it and then it didn't even work!’
      • ‘So she made it her personal mission to save the children and fight for their rights.’
      • ‘Ben was rushed to hospital and a team of 14 doctors and nurses fought to save his life.’
      champion, promote, advocate, plead for, defend, protect, uphold, support, back, espouse, stand up for, campaign for, lobby for, battle for, crusade for, take up the cudgels for
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    7. 1.7with object Struggle or campaign against (something)
      ‘the best way to fight fascism abroad and racism at home’
      • ‘Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh said he will fight any attempt to change the current situation.’
      • ‘They have turned their attention to the UN sanctions, and are fighting attempts to have them lifted.’
      • ‘Why do we fight even what we know to be in our own vital interests?’
      • ‘Governments must fight corruption, respect basic human rights, and embrace the rule of law.’
      • ‘The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to expand the government's powers to fight terrorism.’
      • ‘The Chamber also commended the police for their swift response, but warned that a greater effort was needed to fight crime.’
      • ‘His union, the National Union of Journalists, had backed him and promised to fight any attempts to force him out.’
      • ‘They fought what they saw as a vicious conspiracy to exploit their father's gift.’
      • ‘Councillor Jones has been in charge for 15 years and is expected to fight any attempt to oust him.’
      • ‘We will stand shoulder to shoulder with any community to fight the scourge of drugs in our county.’
      • ‘The organization says that the government have done precious little to fight poverty.’
      • ‘That often frustrating and occasionally rewarding process taught us the many possible roles for physicists in fighting terrorism.’
      • ‘Forty fire trucks and 440 firefighters valiantly fought the blaze for three hours.’
      • ‘A number of Chinese herbal medicines have been shown to possess an ability to fight infections and strengthen the body's immunity.’
      oppose, contest, contend with, confront, challenge, combat, dispute, object to, quarrel with, argue against, argue with
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    8. 1.8with object Attempt to repress (a feeling or an expression of a feeling)
      ‘she had to fight back tears of frustration’
      • ‘Loren fought the feeling of helpless panic that threatened to engulf him.’
      • ‘Before I got out of the car I fought the fears that were resulting in me wanting to not get out of the car, the ones that made me want to hide.’
      • ‘Seems like he was fighting his feelings, and you - without your consent - were helping.’
      • ‘Celinda close her eyes and tried to fight the feelings, the emotions running through her.’
      • ‘I started to walk away from him while fighting my tears and frustration, telling myself to be strong.’
      • ‘If this is the worst trouble we see all tournament, I shall have to fight the feelings of smugness very hard indeedy.’
      • ‘He looked around, biting his lip, fighting a rising feeling of anxiety.’
      • ‘He fought hard the urge to look around at all the people, the shouting, the screaming.’
      • ‘His efforts to protect an innocent girl while he fights the rising panic as the serum starts to control his body, is compelling.’
      • ‘He looked up at her and desperately fought the urge to pull her closer.’
      • ‘Finally Weaver stopped fighting her feelings and settled into the new relationship.’
      • ‘Ryan closed his eyes, fighting tears of frustration.’
      • ‘I fought my feelings back, attributing them to pregnancy hormones making me easily moody.’
      • ‘She fought feelings of panic as he moved in to kiss her, and successfully allowed him to continue a few moments before she pulled away.’
      • ‘The customer turned towards the door, and she once again fought the urge to hide.’
      • ‘She fought feelings of depression as she watched her son and husband living a life separate from the one she was forced to maintain.’
      • ‘Tara crossed her arms over her chest, fighting the feeling of defensiveness she got whenever he spoke to her like that.’
      • ‘John took a deep breath, fighting again what he was feeling.’
      • ‘Since then, he has grown more liberated, fighting lingering feelings of guilt and fear.’
      • ‘It was then that he knew that fighting the feelings he had for her wasn't going to be an easy task…’
      repress, restrain, suppress, stifle, smother, hold back, keep back, fight back, keep in check, check, curb, contain, control, keep under control, rein in, silence, muffle, bottle up, choke back, swallow, strangle, gag
      repress, restrain, suppress, stifle, smother, hold back, keep back, keep in check, check, curb, contain, control, keep under control, rein in, silence, muffle, bottle up, choke back, swallow, strangle, gag
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    9. 1.9with object Take part in a boxing match against (an opponent)
      • ‘Young, like Byrd, fought some monster heavyweights as well.’
      • ‘Following four comeback fights, he was in position to fight new champion Evander Holyfield.’
      • ‘When he fought Corrales, he fought a very good fighter who was fighting the best fight of his life.’
    10. 1.10fight one's way Move forward with difficulty, especially by pushing through a crowd or overcoming physical obstacles.
      ‘she watched him fight his way across the room’
      • ‘I fought my way forward, one hand tugging him onwards, the other pinning my hat to my head.’
      • ‘As you fight your way through the Christmas crowds, ponder this theory from the University of York - ‘I shop therefore I am.’’
      • ‘You fought your way through the crowds to get it, just for this moment.’
      • ‘We fought our way - and we mean fought our way - through the crowd waiting to get into the Evanescence show.’
      • ‘After three days of walking or bussing to the station, though, I'm almost looking forward to fighting my way through the traffic and the swearing drivers tomorrow morning.’
      • ‘You could easily get a black eye fighting your way through that crowd.’
      • ‘As he half fought his way through the steady crowd, no one noticed him or acknowledged his existence.’
      • ‘When the couple left we had to fight our way through the crowds to get to the blessing for 1pm.’
      • ‘His customary difficulty in fighting his way across a room was compounded on this occasion by his wife, who intervened to persuade him to stay.’
      • ‘I fought my way forward and on deck from of the bowels of the salon.’
      • ‘You'll have to fight your way through the male crowd to even get close to a TV set.’
      • ‘I fight my way through the crowds until I find an acquaintance working the door.’
      • ‘After the group finished their set, my friends and I fought our way through the crowd to catch another band on the main stage.’
      • ‘Now, you have to fight your way through the crowd just to get in or out of the store.’
      • ‘He fought his way through the ragged crowd and climbed into the Landrover and started the engine.’
      • ‘Like last year, Martin Tomczyk fought his way forward from position 14 on the grid to fifth place.’
      • ‘Two other pilgrims from India joined us and together we fought our way through the dense crowd.’
      • ‘At a circuit on which overtaking is extremely difficult, the Swede from Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline fought his way forward from fifth position on the grid to second place.’
      • ‘After he fought his way through the crowd, he scanned the emergency room for his brother.’
      • ‘We fought our way through the crowd and ran for our lives to the docks.’
    11. 1.11archaic with object Command, manage, or maneuver (troops, a ship, or military equipment) in battle.
      ‘General Hill fights his troops well’
      • ‘He fights his vessel well.’


  • 1A violent confrontation or struggle.

    ‘we'll get into a fight and wind up with bloody noses’
    • ‘The argument escalated into a fight which was broken up by the other card players.’
    • ‘I went to a skatepark and I almost got into a fight because this guy thought he skated way better than me.’
    • ‘I went to him when I got into a fight and some idiot drove a piece of glass into my ear.’
    • ‘At one point she got into a fight with an older woman who was dealing on the corner and refused to move along.’
    • ‘Lauren got into a fight with Mindy and accidentally pushed her off a balcony.’
    • ‘Somewhere between Colorado and New Mexico he got into a fight with an irate florist.’
    • ‘Drunk, he could become stridently argumentative and eager for a fight.’
    • ‘Normally people didn't last this long when they got into a fight with him.’
    • ‘There has been evidence of arguments in pubs, fights inside and outside of the town's main nightclub and drinking sessions continuing on to the early hours of the morning.’
    • ‘It was the fact that I actually got into a fight over a boy.’
    • ‘During soccer matches, fights often break out between rival supporters.’
    • ‘I got into a fight with a kid, hit him once and then ran into the house and declared I'd won.’
    • ‘He knew that if they got into a fight, and Raine was hurt, he would be killed by Mark.’
    • ‘It says here that you once got into a fight with a construction worker back in college.’
    • ‘Her right arm is in bandages after she got into a fight at a nightclub with a crazed fan.’
    • ‘The group became involved in a verbal altercation with another group of younger males and a fist fight ensued.’
    • ‘Another time everything was going fine in America until he got into a fight with a Columbian man and once more was deported.’
    • ‘He eventually got into a fight with some of the kids because he thought they were not giving him enough money.’
    • ‘It seems that as a student in elementary school he got into a fight during which he sustained an injury to his throat.’
    • ‘According to police and prosecutors, the two got into a fight after she told him he should be committed to a mental hospital.’
    brawl, fracas, melee, row, rumpus, confrontation, skirmish, sparring match, exchange, struggle, tussle, scuffle, altercation, wrangle, scrum, clash, disturbance
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    1. 1.1 A boxing match.
      • ‘He won provincial boxing and Golden Gloves championships and won 102 of 108 fights as a prizefighter.’
      • ‘If Arthur wins, he will almost certainly get that world title fight.’
      • ‘He wasn't able to land with much power and his newborn boxing style was a bit dry throughout the fight.’
      • ‘He signed a deal with Mike Tyson for two fights in the UK.’
      • ‘If there is a fight WBC featherweight Champion Eric Morales will be on the card.’
      • ‘Back then retired champs used to go to and care about the big championship fights.’
      • ‘Occasional boxing fans want to watch high-profile heavyweight fights and he reels them in.’
      • ‘This year will also witness the last fights of boxing legend Lennox Lewis.’
      • ‘Although 35 years is not considered old in this division, he knows his battle to secure fights might force him to hang up his gloves.’
      • ‘His greatness can be judge not just by his skills but by the number of victories in championship fights.’
      • ‘The city of Memphis put on a heavyweight title fight with class and no problems.’
      • ‘He had won 18 fights in a row since turning professional after winning Olympic light-heavyweight gold in Rome.’
      • ‘It was testament to his courage and fighting spirit that the champion finished the fight on his feet.’
      • ‘The only time he was ever shook or stopped were in his fights with Holmes and Tyson.’
      • ‘What is often forgotten is that Gene Tunney easily beat Jack Dempsey in both of their fights.’
      • ‘This was his last hurrah but even today, he still stays in the boxing games by refereeing fights in Ohio.’
      • ‘They have become champions in big fights and then fell by the wayside afterwards.’
      • ‘Finally he is paired with the champion in a heavyweight title fight.’
      • ‘Lewis also criticised the referee who took charge of his fight with Tyson.’
      • ‘This took place in between the first and second fights between Frazier and Quarry.’
      boxing match, bout, match, meeting, fixture, game, encounter
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    2. 1.2 A battle or war.
      ‘the country was not eager for a fight with the US’
      • ‘According to historians the fierce fights between hostile clans and war lords were mainly a battle for land.’
      • ‘Soldiers continue to bring the fight to our enemy.’
      • ‘Coalition forces continue to bring the fight to the enemy and rescue hostages.’
      • ‘Every combatant there went into the arena in full battle gear for a fight to death or surrender.’
      • ‘There were casualties in wars, battles, fights; He knew and understood this.’
      • ‘The two shared their ideas on battles and fights and the results came up with a quite an interesting effect.’
      battle, engagement, clash, conflict, contest, encounter
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    3. 1.3 A vigorous struggle or campaign for or against something.
      ‘a long fight against cancer’
      • ‘The fight for the hearts and minds of Canadians will certainly continue.’
      • ‘This is a fight for the heart and soul of the federal judiciary, and, for that matter, the rule of law.’
      • ‘If he is really serious about this fight and wants public support then this is the place to start.’
      • ‘Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century.’
      • ‘A mother dying from cancer has lost her fight for life and the chance to see her imprisoned son for the first time in three years.’
      • ‘A single mum whose daughter suffers from a rare genetic disease could take her fight for a disabled parking pass to Europe.’
      • ‘Political leadership is fundamental for the pursuit of a determined and courageous fight against poverty.’
      • ‘This week he lost his fight for an early release from jail.’
      • ‘She is portrayed as a single-handed crusader in the fight against drugs.’
      • ‘But Mr Aldred said he will never give up in his fight for justice.’
      • ‘The only way to make them say yes is to collect the people in a movement that is seen as a fight for the basic rights of individuals.’
      • ‘He focuses his energies on the fight against corruption - the incubator of evil.’
      • ‘It's the fight for democracy, it's the fight for pluralism and for greater tolerance.’
      • ‘Traders have won the first battle in their fight against council plans to introduce charging at a free car park.’
      • ‘In today's fight, the ability to apply knowledge is what makes the real difference.’
      • ‘The Global Fund is the leading foundation funding the fight against HIV and Aids.’
      • ‘They see their fight as being a battle to secure a birthright, they are adamant that they will not be denied.’
      • ‘I also know the people of the Vale and surmised they wouldn't be giving up their local boxing club without a fight.’
      • ‘His speech was a milestone in the fight for the equality of all peoples.’
      • ‘The media battle, the political battle and the fight for truth about war have been joined.’
      struggle, battle, campaign, endeavour, drive, push, effort, movement, move
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    4. 1.4 An argument or quarrel.
      ‘she had a fight with her husband’
      • ‘The last time we had been at Lava, Beth and I kind of got into a fight with Tina, well more of a verbal fight.’
      • ‘And, you know, like any normal couple, we have our fights and arguments and disagreements.’
      • ‘It has become a very public fight between Sir Ronnie and Mrs O'Loan over who is right and who is wrong.’
      • ‘A huge verbal fight broke out in front of various press members.’
      • ‘Whether he, too, was tired of the tedium of fights and arguments between the two of them, or whether his guilt had simply caught up with him, he was trying to end things on good terms.’
      • ‘In the future, fights and disagreements between husbands and wives will simply result in the immediate end of their marriages.’
      • ‘There were no fights, no arguments, nothing of the sort.’
      • ‘There was no screaming custody battle, no fights over who owned what.’
      • ‘This was beyond arguments and beyond little fights.’
      • ‘I had a lengthy mental fight with myself tonight, over the pull of the sofa versus the necessity of getting out and seeing some adults.’
      • ‘It then occurred to her that she was running away just like she used to do whenever she got into a fight with her parents.’
      • ‘Well, John had heard about me asking Aimee out, and he thought that she was cheating on him and they got into a fight.’
      • ‘Everyone crowds around him, forgetting all about their fights and arguments.’
      • ‘We got into a fight once and she told me that she was originally going to name me Elizabeth.’
      • ‘I love the people I have around me even with all the fights and arguments that we have.’
      • ‘He told her that he probably got into a fight with Lindsey or something and wants to be left alone.’
      • ‘I used to hide out there for hours whenever I got into a fight with my parents or my sisters.’
      • ‘I had pilfered a nice, juicy mango and was about to eat it when some guy got into a fight with me about who should own it.’
      • ‘We got into a fight at the end of freshman year, and it carried a little into the summer.’
      • ‘He and I played all the instruments and we had plenty of fights and arguments.’
      argument, quarrel, squabble, row, wrangle, disagreement, difference of opinion, falling-out, contretemps, tangle, altercation, fracas
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    5. 1.5 The inclination or ability to fight or struggle.
      ‘Ginny felt the fight trickle out of her’
      • ‘I realised that I had no fight left in me, no strength left to challenge what was being said.’
      • ‘Alex praised us for our spirit and fight and he's got to take a lot of credit for the tactics he used.’
      • ‘There doesn't appear to be any fight in this team and there is certainly no shape, no game plan.’
      • ‘The old Kendal was back on Sunday with a bit of fight, confidence and quality in our performance.’
      • ‘By late October, they were being hailed for their spirit and fight.’
      • ‘I would like to see them have that controlled determination, aggression and fight.’
      • ‘The first three matches took the fight out of Zimbabwe as Pakistan set up targets of 300 plus.’
      • ‘They all start off with a bit of fight in them, you know the old total lack of respect and total disdain for the law.’
      will to resist, power to resist, resistance, morale, spirit, courage, pluck, pluckiness, gameness, will to win, strength, backbone, spine, mettle, stout-heartedness, determination, firmness of purpose, resolution, resolve, resoluteness, confidence
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  • fight fire with fire

    • Use the weapons or tactics of one's enemy or opponent, even if one finds them distasteful.

      • ‘We have to rise up to the same level as them and fight fire with fire.’
      • ‘Do any of them truly understand that you can never really win fighting fire with fire?’
      • ‘It's not a great choice, but it seems to me that the cost of losing is higher than of fighting fire with fire.’
      • ‘If the game is going to go back to front again there'll be no way we'll be able to get hold of the ball in midfield so we might have to fight fire with fire.’
      • ‘And if the end result isn't exactly my idea of a civilized political discourse (I'll reserve judgement for now) it clearly is a powerful and successful example of fighting fire with fire.’
      • ‘‘She has developed a coping mechanism of fighting back, fighting fire with fire,’ Mr Mott said.’
      • ‘It is from there I adopted the tactic of fighting fire with fire - its the only thing these people understand.’
      • ‘Maybe applying such a label is propaganda, but maybe we should fight fire with fire.’
      • ‘So one way to get at them is to fight fire with fire - come up with images to counter those images.’
      • ‘We as a village couldn't afford to just let this happen and we wanted to fight fire with fire.’
  • fight a losing battle

    • Be fated to fail in one's efforts.

      ‘he was fighting a losing battle to stem the tears’
      • ‘The final score does scant justice to the efforts of the players who never stopped trying despite fighting a losing battle for much of the game.’
      • ‘We are trying to create a place of contemplation and peace, but it feels like fighting a losing battle.’
      • ‘Trauma counselors admit they are fighting a losing battle.’
      • ‘I used to pull the grey hairs out, but when I discovered my grandfather had gone totally white in his twenties, I realised I was fighting a losing battle.’
      • ‘Unaided by the public, police would be fighting a losing battle against crime.’
      • ‘Here he fights a losing battle against a formulaic script and a clunky, cliff-hanging finale that wouldn't have seemed out of place in a silent melodrama.’
      • ‘He said the planned closure was heartbreaking: ‘We are all upset about it but we are fighting a losing battle.’’
      • ‘The police are fighting a losing battle, and they know this, which is why you are unlikely to be arrested for small amounts.’
      • ‘Meanwhile in Pickering residents living around the Beck Isle Museum fought a losing battle as water seeped through stacked sandbags and home-made defences into their houses.’
      • ‘These days I sometimes feel I'm fighting a losing battle.’
  • fight shy of

    • Be unwilling to undertake or become involved with.

      ‘these musicians fight shy of change’
      • ‘During the drive in the park, we were lucky to come across the black bear, an elusive inhabitant of the park that fights shy of visitors.’
      • ‘MacMillan has never fought shy of controversy.’
      • ‘Labour has fought shy of scrapping the policy, since it is politically difficult to tinker with a long-standing deal under which tenants can buy their house at a discount of up to 70% after three years of occupation.’
      • ‘I had previously fought shy of this venue thinking its prices would be beyond our budget.’
      • ‘I've always fought shy of putting up old journals, written prior to the start of the on-line version, mostly because of the enormous amount of labour required.’
      • ‘Many directors have fought shy of the opera's dark side.’
      • ‘Sitting prime ministers have traditionally fought shy of debating head-to-head with their rivals so close to an election.’
      • ‘But apart from an occasional outburst on the cost of fuel, the parties have generally fought shy of saying how they will tackle the difficult and often expensive problems surrounding Britain's various systems of transport.’
      • ‘He never fought shy of the grand ones: love, war, vanity, world, truth, loss, death, pity, horror, humanity.’
      • ‘The federal government has traditionally fought shy of becoming involved in education, which is mainly dealt with at state level.’
      flinch from, demur from, recoil from, hang back from
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  • make a fight of it

    • Put up a spirited show of resistance in a fight or contest.

      ‘the Chargers certainly made a fight of it in the second half’
      • ‘When Quinn grabbed his chance just after the break it looked as though Sunderland could still make a fight of it.’
      • ‘The result was never in doubt, but at least they made a fight of it.’
      • ‘The question is whether Rudd and Gillard decide it's worth making a fight of it.’
      • ‘Michael Howard and his team must raise their game and make a fight of it.’
      • ‘There had been hopes that England would make a fight of it.’
      • ‘Had the game continued for another 10 minutes the Wasps could have made a fight of it.’
      • ‘Now we need to wait and see how strategies and the race itself unfold, but we are in a good position to make a fight of it.’
      • ‘The French-Canadian made a fight of it after losing the first set 6-0 but finally succumbed after a 10-8 tiebreak.’
      • ‘Instead they trailed 22-0 but even then coach Lee Crooks held out hope they could make a fight of it in the second half.’
      • ‘I certainly think the English ladies team would have made a fight of it.’
  • fight or flight

    • The instinctive physiological response to a threatening situation, which readies one either to resist forcibly or to run away.

      • ‘I turned at looked her in right in the face, and I could now feel the ancient fight or flight instinct kicking in as the adrenaline began coursing through my body.’
      • ‘As if we were cornered chipmunks, our racing thoughts and sped-up energy prepare us for either of the classic survival options: fight or flight.’
      • ‘if you are getting to the point of fight or flight, you have probably already lost’
      • ‘One of the mechanisms that helps us heal is a fight or flight response.’
      • ‘In that situation, an animal has two choices - fight or flight.’
      • ‘This is when those who haven't punched a ticket feel fight or flight in their bellies.’
      • ‘This is known as the classic fight or flight response.’
      • ‘Humans, like all animals, have an inborn stress alarm system that initiates a fight or flight response to stressful situations.’
      • ‘It's true, when you feel that your life might be in danger your natural instinct is fight or flight.’
      • ‘I'm sure you've heard of fight or flight in a stressful situation.’
  • put up a fight

    • Offer resistance to an attack.

      • ‘O'Connell, on the other hand, seemed to have put up a fight.’
      • ‘I have observed that more women, including domestic helpers, have now realized their rights and, therefore, are putting up a fight against discrimination and violence.’
      • ‘Chelsea must be shown they can't just take our best players without us putting up a fight.’
      • ‘On Monday, however, local residents, including a large number of pensioners, said they would not let the home close without putting up a fight.’
      • ‘A journalist puts up a fight against an industrialist who is dumping chemical waste near a school.’
      • ‘As the songwriter said, ‘treat the youths right, or they'll be putting up a fight.’’
      • ‘Still, they have a long way to go, even if they were clearly putting up a fight.’
      • ‘I will not compromise my own principles and judgement without putting up a fight.’
      • ‘I beat a hasty retreat without putting up a fight.’
      • ‘He was putting up a fight, but he didn't seem that strong.’
      retaliate, counterattack, strike back, hit back, reply, respond, react, reciprocate, return fire, give tit for tat, give as good as one gets, return the compliment, defend oneself, put up a fight, return like for like, get back at someone, give someone a dose of their own medicine, give someone a taste of their own medicine
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  • fight like cats and dogs

    • (of two people) be continually arguing with one another.

      • ‘The two of them fought like cats and dogs to come up with Peter.’
      • ‘They had been fighting like cats and dogs when she left.’
      • ‘Their relationship was passionate and never dull, with great highs when their love seemed to overwhelm them and huge lows when they fought like cat and dog.’
      • ‘When we drank together we fought like cats and dogs.’
      • ‘The two fight like cats and dogs, but you get the feeling they still care about each other.’
      • ‘Whenever they went anywhere together they would fight like cats and dogs.’
      • ‘We fought like cats and dogs when we were younger.’
      • ‘She had known them for some time now and had always known Amber and Jas to fight like cats and dogs.’
      • ‘Anyone with siblings will find this familiar: We fought like cats and dogs when we were younger.’
      • ‘The 4 sitting members will fight like cats and dogs to get those slots.’
      quarrel, argue, row, bicker, squabble, have a fight, have a row, wrangle, dispute, be at odds, disagree, fail to agree, differ, be at variance, have words, bandy words, be at each other's throats, be at loggerheads
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Phrasal Verbs

  • fight someone/something off

    • Defend oneself against an attack by someone or something.

      figurative ‘well-fed people are better able to fight off infectious disease’
      • ‘I then thought it was pointless trying to fight him off.’
      • ‘Some scientist fear a buildup of such materials would eventually sabotage a person's ability to fight off infection.’
      • ‘Sleep helps bolster your immune system so that you can fight off viruses.’
      • ‘A crowd watched High Chaparral, ridden by Murtagh, fight off a challenge from his stablemate in the 223rd running of the race.’
      • ‘I was too dazed to fight her off.’
      repel, repulse, beat off, stave off, ward off, hold off, fend off, hold at bay, keep at bay, drive away, drive back, force back, beat back, push back, resist
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  • fight back

    • Counterattack or retaliate in a fight, struggle, or contest.

      • ‘Coming up next here, Congress fights back against big media.’
      • ‘If the assailant resists - fights back or counters - suddenly there is a muscle tussle, an awkward strength against strength encounter.’
      • ‘He would have fought back if he had been able to, but the hit to his head had knocked him out.’
      • ‘If you look at his presidency, he was always at his best when he was fighting back from something.’
      • ‘He drew his sword and was about to attack her when she drew her sword and fought back.’
      • ‘But our Mr. Smith fights back, defeats the political bigwigs, and watches his leaders confess their errors.’
      • ‘Fortunately Mr. Gergen composes himself and fights back!’
      • ‘The left fights back with documentaries this election season.’
      • ‘Well, over the past five or six years there is no doubt that the reactionaries have fought back.’
      • ‘He seems to coast sometimes, and when he gets down, that's when he fights back.’
  • fight it out

    • Settle a dispute by fighting or competing aggressively.

      ‘they fought it out with a tug-of-war’
      • ‘Nor was it a good idea, having created such a situation, to simply leave and let the two populations fight it out.’
      • ‘This story has got it all, drama, excitement, countries fighting it out to the last split-second.’
      • ‘Of course, maybe the free-marketers don't need us and can just fight it out amongst themselves.’
      • ‘Every year a school class picked at random will be cast away on an abandoned island to fight it out amongst themselves.’
      • ‘And the two candidates, of course, fought it out.’
      • ‘They will fight it out for the top place in the competition over 27 programmes.’
      • ‘The first class was for chefs and caterers, with two competitors fighting it out to win the engraved frying pan and town council certificate.’
      • ‘Daddy had his chair, Mamma had her end of the couch, and the kids just fought it out.’
      • ‘They have won 14 medals, virtually fighting it out with hundreds of competitors across the country.’
      • ‘This time, both sides are getting ready with lawyers and legal precedents to fight it out in the eventuality of a dispute.’


Old English feohtan (verb), feoht(e), gefeoht (noun), of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch vechten, gevecht and German fechten, Gefecht.