Definition of struggle in English:



  • 1 Make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction.

    ‘before she could struggle, he lifted her up’
    [with infinitive] ‘he struggled to break free’
    • ‘She was still struggling to break free from its hold but was failing miserably.’
    • ‘Eric was struggling to break free, each gesture binding him tighter and tighter, squeezing his ribs and his frail arm.’
    • ‘Rebecca struggled to break free but he was hurting her.’
    • ‘Sami shouted, struggling to break free of Rowan's spell.’
    • ‘She caught his shoulders, but she began to struggle under his weight.’
    • ‘She struggled for breath as she fainted and fell to the ground, motionless.’
    • ‘Adrian yelled, struggling to break free but Dennis was too strong for him.’
    • ‘Kicking and thrashing, Jennifer desperately struggled to break free.’
    • ‘Startled, Peter struggled to break free, but suddenly there were knives all around him and he was held down.’
    • ‘It had a particularly ‘jack-in-the box’ sound to it, in which each note seemed to struggle to break free.’
    • ‘We get the image of a man's face struggling to break free of what appears to be some sort of womb.’
    • ‘They soon came to a small, ramshackle village and dismounted, Mishana struggling violently to be free.’
    • ‘He struggled to break free, and the pair stumbled across the room and up against the bureau.’
    • ‘I knew what he was going to do and I screamed, struggling to break free.’
    • ‘It growled in pain, its body struggling to break free.’
    • ‘Alarmed, Darlene lurched forward, struggling to break free, but it was no use.’
    • ‘Rachel yelled in frustration, violently struggling to free herself from Todd's firm hold.’
    • ‘The frigate was struggling to break free, but with it's destroyed engine and other damage, it wasn't much of a fight.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, the drunken man on the other side of the room was struggling to break free of the flimsy curtain that separated us.’
    • ‘Jerry gurgled, struggling to break free of Tiamat's grip.’
    fight, grapple, wrestle, scuffle, brawl, spar, exchange blows, come to blows
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    1. 1.1Strive to achieve or attain something in the face of difficulty or resistance.
      [with infinitive] ‘many families struggle to make ends meet’
      ‘new authors are struggling in the present climate’
      • ‘The woman struggled to her feet when there was a loud creaking sound.’
      • ‘His gait was bent and he was struggling against all odds just to keep himself going.’
      • ‘The US $183 million Yankees are struggling mightily at the plate, leaving their fans restless.’
      • ‘The former dairy worker is struggling to get much enthusiasm from fellow tenants.’
      • ‘But he struggled with injuries for much of the season and missed four games.’
      • ‘Many ordinary men and women struggle hard to achieve more equality in their lives.’
      • ‘They said they were already struggling to cope with the 6,500 people on their books.’
      • ‘Both she and Hope were desperately struggling to keep a straight face.’
      • ‘The city struggled for the survival of its body as well as its soul.’
      • ‘He and his board have struggled valiantly to keep the club going, despite facing major obstacles.’
      • ‘The loss to Tranmere was excusable, but two defeats to teams struggling to survive is very disappointing.’
      • ‘Both sides struggled to find a route to goal in the second half.’
      • ‘Tibetan culture is also struggling against these odds, merely to survive.’
      • ‘The homesters struggled against some very tidy bowling and were dismissed for 89.’
      • ‘The Italian economy is struggling under a burden of recession, rising inflation, and high government debt.’
      • ‘Fordyce has struggled offensively all season but is signed for two more years.’
      • ‘Most of their batsmen are still struggling to cope with the New Zealand pace attack.’
      • ‘He struggled at the plate and needs to regain his confidence.’
      • ‘He was struggling mightily at the plate in the play-offs and appeared out of sorts.’
      • ‘With a new manager the side has struggled to find the highs of recent seasons.’
      strive, try hard, endeavour, make every effort, spare no effort, exert oneself, do one's best, do all one can, do one's utmost, battle, labour, toil, strain, bend over backwards, put oneself out
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    2. 1.2Have difficulty handling or coping with.
      ‘passengers struggle with bags and briefcases’
      • ‘It is evident that the Ericsson services business was struggling with similar sorts of issues.’
      • ‘I wonder if you could spare a thought this week for these people as they struggle with their present difficulties.’
      • ‘He was the person his colleagues turned to when they were struggling with difficult clinical problems.’
      • ‘In a climate where it seems other politicians struggle with that acceptance, it's a refreshing change.’
      • ‘She struggled with the handle before swinging the door open, diving in and slamming it shut again.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, even she struggled with some of the difficulties posed by the system.’
      • ‘Family and friends knew all about my struggles with domestic management and parenting, my daytime naps, and early nights.’
      • ‘Many people struggle with managing their time and trying to achieve everything they want to throughout the day.’
      • ‘The former world number one is still struggling with a stomach strain.’
      • ‘In light of this, it was a shame to learn that the resort is struggling with financial difficulties.’
    3. 1.3Engage in conflict.
      ‘politicians continued to struggle over familiar issues’
      • ‘Shops in the town continually have to struggle against fierce competition from bigger centres.’
      • ‘Mass marketers continue to struggle against thick competition from department store and specialty brands.’
      • ‘I was the assistant captain, so I struggled with him, and managed to throw him on to the ice.’
      • ‘Jessica screams as she looks into Stephanie's deadly eyes and the two women struggle desperately for survival.’
      • ‘Indigenous people around the world continue to struggle against the exploitation of their land and resources.’
      • ‘Why not take advantage of some opportunities that may not be there if Wie does continue to struggle against the men?’
      • ‘These groups, despite the brutal opposition of the state, continue to struggle against corrupt and repressive regimes.’
      • ‘It smacks more of a fragmented nation struggling to reconcile the conflicting agendas of disparate racial groups.’
      • ‘He's reviewing whether he can continue to provide his employees' benefits as he struggles to compete.’
      • ‘He continued to struggle when other officers arrived but was eventually arrested.’
      • ‘Retailers continuing to struggle amidst intense competition, a slowing economy and low inflation.’
      • ‘She struggled vainly to get away, but eventually gave up.’
      • ‘These shifts did not occur without inner turmoil and conflict, and many fractions continue to struggle within the party today.’
      • ‘Mark Bahnisch continues to struggle valiantly against his blogging addiction, but with less than complete success.’
      • ‘The network's chairman announces his departure as CNN continues to struggle in the cable ratings war.’
      • ‘It was probably the worst time to begin and the country has continued to struggle to this day.’
      • ‘This shift in rodeo queen criteria did not sit well with women who struggled to continue competing in rodeo.’
      compete, contend, contest, vie, fight, battle, clash, wrangle, jockey, lock horns, cross swords, war, wage war, feud
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    4. 1.4Make one's way with difficulty.
      ‘he struggled to the summit of the world's highest mountain’
      scramble, flounder, stumble
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  • 1A forceful or violent effort to get free of restraint or resist attack.

    • ‘They then asked for money and again the boys refused and a struggle ensued.’
    • ‘Within about 15 minutes neighbours heard voices and banging on the walls sounding like a violent struggle was taking place.’
    • ‘In a violent struggle, Bourgass stabbed police officer Stephen Oake to death and wounded three others as he tried to escape.’
    • ‘A 22-year-old man who bit an elderly petrol station worker on the shoulder during a violent struggle has been jailed by a judge for two years.’
    • ‘There was a stand-off, before the officers used CS gas on the man and after a violent struggle, he was subdued and arrested.’
    • ‘The lesser struggle is the physical struggle of self-defence.’
    • ‘They eventually arrested him despite his violent struggles.’
    • ‘When he and the shop-keeper returned to the tree, the bird lay on the ground, dead from her wild struggle to free herself.’
    • ‘He said the wounds suggested a violent struggle and that bruising to Mrs Mace's neck suggested an attempt at manual strangulation.’
    • ‘Detectives are still investigating that possibility but believe much of the damage to the house was caused during the violent struggle.’
    • ‘America's wars and violent struggles are always fought with goals of preventing future terror attacks and saving lives.’
    • ‘The manager of a mini-supermarket ended up in a violent struggle after confronting a thief, a court heard.’
    • ‘After a violent struggle Seek manages to get free from their grasp.’
    • ‘Ambulance chiefs today condemned a teenager who assaulted a senior paramedic and a policeman during a violent struggle in York.’
    • ‘His struggles to free himself were again fruitless.’
    • ‘After a violent struggle, he managed to restrain Vita on the ground until back-up arrived.’
    • ‘His feet were concealed within a thick layer of ice that seemed not to budge with his most violent struggles.’
    • ‘She was embedded in the mud right up to the points of her shoulders, and she was exhausted from her struggles to free herself.’
    • ‘The Bata workers' struggle erupted amid developing unrest throughout Sri Lanka.’
    • ‘One victim suffered severe bruising during a violent struggle before the robbers escaped with £13,000.’
    fight, scuffle, brawl, tussle, wrestling match, sparring match, wrestling bout, bout, skirmish, fracas, melee, affray, encounter, disturbance, breach of the peace
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    1. 1.1A conflict or contest.
      ‘a power struggle for the leadership’
      ‘with a struggle, she pulled the stroller up the slope’
      • ‘He abandoned his studies in 1930 and joined the freedom struggle.’
      • ‘But it is not clear whether the ongoing political struggles are shadow boxing or part of a real contest.’
      • ‘It marked the beginning of what has turned out to be a protracted political struggle.’
      • ‘Conflict in Angola flared up in the 1960s during the liberation struggle against Portuguese colonial domination.’
      • ‘With little room for compromise the stage is set for a bitter internal factional struggle.’
      • ‘The defence of democratic rights is inseparably bound up with the struggle for socialism.’
      • ‘His heroes were all engaged in titanic struggles for survival, with defeat always a possibility.’
      • ‘Our lives are an eternal struggle between opposing forces.’
      • ‘A basic preoccupation of science fiction is the often troubled relationship between humanity and other life-forms and, by extension, the role played by technology in the struggle for power and control.’
      • ‘The sad truth is that the man who vows to continue the armed struggle is likely to prevail.’
      conflict, fight, battle, armed conflict, combat, confrontation, clash, skirmish, encounter, engagement
      contest, competition, battle, fight, clash, feud
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    2. 1.2A determined effort under difficulties.
      ‘the center is the result of the scientists' struggle to realize their dream’
      • ‘Consequently, the struggles for self-determination took various forms as independence to greater autonomy.’
      • ‘Pushing through the proposed reforms has been an uphill struggle from the start.’
      • ‘It's a daily struggle for not only physical survival, but mental endurance and a lingering hope that their story will be heard.’
      • ‘This would, however, require a determined struggle, relying on Senate filibusters and similar tactics.’
      • ‘Thus, the fight against sweatshops is defined in this context as a struggle for physical improvement of workplaces.’
      • ‘Over 200 child labourers from 55 countries gathered to share experiences of their struggle to create a free world for children.’
      • ‘You're surely not suggesting that women should abandon their struggle for equality to stay home and mix formula instead?’
      • ‘In contrast, deported refugees face a struggle for their very existence.’
      • ‘Social reforms alongside a determined struggle for liberation will lead us towards democracy and independence.’
      • ‘The panelists urged the youth to continue the struggle for equality and justice.’
      • ‘We might feel ambivalent about picking up a book about a woman's struggle with breast cancer.’
      • ‘We acknowledge the support of the Australian people, and other countries, in our struggle for self-determination.’
      • ‘But on a deeper level they meant to frame labor's struggle as an effort to secure human rights.’
      • ‘Theirs is a just struggle to free their country from tyranny.’
      • ‘We never once see any internal struggle in his physically compromised position.’
      • ‘Socialists who stressed the struggle of the poor, like the poet Attila József, were a minority voice.’
      • ‘At the same time, their determined struggle against adversity is a source of inspiration for all of us.’
      • ‘For the past 50 years, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people have embarked on a non-violent struggle to free Tibet from its oppressors.’
      • ‘Chavez, who led the struggle for social justice for migrant farm workers, died in 1993.’
      • ‘People were largely caught up in the desperate daily struggle for survival.’
      • ‘The advent of the female birth control pill greatly aided women's struggle for autonomy and fulfillment.’
      endeavour, striving, effort, exertion, labour, work, toiling, pains
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    3. 1.3A very difficult task.
      ‘it was a struggle to make herself understood’
      • ‘And becoming good moreover requires a difficult struggle for self-mastery, just like any form of training.’
      • ‘It was a difficult struggle, but she managed to hold it in.’
      • ‘And such struggles become difficult if not impossible when workers do not have a minimum security of tenure.’
      • ‘We heard of the struggle of the pastoral counselor, poorly equipped for the task at hand, and yet pushed to provide more pastoral care.’
      • ‘It has been a difficult struggle for a group which began life without two farthings to rub together.’
      • ‘And, the only certainty in this journey is that this will be our most difficult of struggles.’
      • ‘It's a factor that Martel will almost certainly have to contend with in the future, a struggle almost as difficult as that facing Alonso.’
      • ‘I think it's going to be a difficult struggle, definitely.’
      • ‘The show is littered with these moments as human interacts with apparatus in a physical struggle.’
      effort, labour, problem, trial, trouble, stress, strain, bother, battle
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  • the struggle for existence (or life)

    • The competition between organisms, especially as an element in natural selection, or between people seeking a livelihood.

      • ‘The assurance of gain, or the expectation of it in the future, is the rallying point in the struggle for existence.’
      • ‘War was natural among humans because it was an instance of the struggle for existence.’
      • ‘Carroll's crocodile, all tooth and claw, signifies other things: amorality, the struggle for existence, predation of the weaker by the stronger.’
      • ‘Nature, in Darwin's view, did the same thing through the struggle for existence: he called it ‘natural selection.’’
      • ‘By the time of his death in 2001 at age 12, he had become, in Nelson Mandela's words, ‘an icon of the struggle for life.’’
      • ‘They lost out in the struggle for existence and produced no offspring.’
      • ‘Slowly however, her senses were beginning to stray from her and Sydney was finding it increasingly difficult to win the struggle for life.’
      • ‘Life in one form or another is very plentiful in the pack, and the struggle for existence here as elsewhere is a fascinating subject of study.’
      • ‘Indeed, ‘in the struggle for life, a taste for truth is a luxury’, even a ‘disability’.’
      • ‘Once again the magic words ‘natural selection’ do not appear, but the struggle for existence with the stronger winning is very clear.’


Late Middle English: frequentative, perhaps of imitative origin. The noun dates from the late 17th century.