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Your English: Idioms: battle

Type: Article

It’s clear the battle lines have been drawn as Tim Bowen shows he’s fighting a running battle with these idioms.

‘After their poor start to the season, the team are facing an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League’. An uphill battle is a hard struggle to achieve something but half the battle can be used to refer to a significant part of an effort to achieve something, as in ‘Finding somewhere to park in the town centre was half the battle. All we had to do then was get to the shops before they closed’.

If someone is fighting a losing battle, they are trying to do something that will probably fail, as in ‘She tried to get him to leave, but she knew she was fighting a losing battle’.

If you fight a running battle with someone, you have an argument or dispute that continues for a long time, as in ‘He has fought a running battle with the local council for years over plans to build a sewage plant next to his land’.

The expression the battle lines are drawn is used for saying that two opposing groups each have a clear and definite idea about the things they disagree about and are ready to start competing with each other, as in ‘The battle lines have now been drawn over the future of press regulation in the UK’.

A battle of wills is a situation in which two people disagree and each refuses to change their ideas or objectives, as in ‘The film is about the real-life battle of wills between the author and the producer over the film rights’.

A battle of wits is a situation in which two people or groups compete by trying to be cleverer than the other, as in ‘The trial quickly became a battle of wits between the prosecution and the defence’.

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