Definition of fight in English:


Line breaks: fight
Pronunciation: /fʌɪt

verb (past and past participle fought /fɔːt/)


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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.
More example sentences
  • It is from there I adopted the tactic of fighting fire with fire - its the only thing these people understand.
  • 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.

fight like cat and dog

(Of two people) be continually arguing with one another: we fought like cat and dog the whole time we were together
More example sentences
  • She had known them for some time now and had always known Amber and Jas to fight like cats and dogs.
  • When we drank together we fought like cats and dogs.
  • 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.

fight a losing battle

Be fated to fail in one’s efforts: the police are fighting a losing battle against a rising tide of crime
More example sentences
  • Unaided by the public, police would be fighting a losing battle against crime.
  • 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.
  • The police are fighting a losing battle, and they know this, which is why you are unlikely to be arrested for small amounts.

fight shy of

Be unwilling to undertake or become involved with: MacMillan has never fought shy of controversy
More example sentences
  • The federal government has traditionally fought shy of becoming involved in education, which is mainly dealt with at state level.
  • 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.
  • 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.
flinch from, demur from, recoil from, hang back from; have scruples about, scruple about, have misgivings about, have qualms about, be averse to, be chary of, not be in favour of, be against, be opposed to, be diffident about, be bashful about, be shy about, be coy about; be loath to, scruple to, be reluctant to, be unwilling to, be disinclined to, not be in the mood to, be indisposed to, be slow to, be hesitant to, be afraid to, hesitate to, hate to, not like to, not have the heart to, drag one's feet/heels over, waver about, vacillate about, think twice about, baulk at, quail at, mind doing something
informal be cagey about, boggle at
archaic disrelish

make a fight of it

Put up a spirited show of resistance in a fight or contest: United certainly made a fight of it in the second half
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.

fight or flight

The instinctive physiological response to a threatening situation, which readies one either to resist forcibly or to run away.
More example sentences
  • I'm sure you've heard of fight or flight in a stressful situation.
  • 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.

put up a fight

Offer resistance to an attack.
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • I beat a hasty retreat without putting up a fight.
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/taste of their own medicine
formal requite something
archaic serve someone out, give someone a Roland for an Oliver

Phrasal verbs

fight someone/thing off

Defend oneself against an attack by someone or something: Candice fought her assailant off figurative well-fed people are better able to fight off infectious disease
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • I then thought it was pointless trying to fight him off.
repel, repulse, beat off, stave off, ward off, hold off, fend off, keep/hold at bay, drive away/back, force back, beat back, push back, resist


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

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