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Definition and Interpretation of “Fight” Essay

Historical Definition

The verb “fight”, used with no object refers to getting involved in violent encounters. In particular, as Yourdictionary.com provides, “fight in this sense involves the exchange of blows or the use of weapons in fighting against an enemy” (def. 1). For example:

  1. The two boys were fighting;
  2. College students fought with the police;
  3. The United States fought against Osama bin Laden.

“Fight” also refers to the act of “opposing threats”, “struggling against” dangerous objects, or making resistance when being attacked by someone or a dangerous animal (“Fight” def. 3), as presented in the Oxford Dictionary. “Fought” and “fighting” is intransitive forms of the verb “fight”

“Fight”, can also refer to the process of attacking someone with the aim of causing harm to them. The words: “beat”, “fight” and “attack” can be used interchangeably (Fortescue 91). For example:

  1. Attack A goes to B, plus A starts to FIGHT B;
  2. Beat A causes B to Acknowledge defeat.

Consequently, English speakers can attempt to decompose “fight” and acknowledge “defeat” in a similar manner. In this context, “fight” means “striking repeatedly” plus “trying to harm/kill/ and rendering defenselessly”. The word “fight” can only be further decomposed when the context is given. For instance, a fight can be used to refer to the combat between animals, gladiators, boxers, modern mechanized armies, etc (Fortescue 91).

Negative definition

The negative definition of “fight” refers to an attack aimed at causing harm to the opponent. On the contrary, a positive definition refers to the achievement of success through ethical means. There is a relationship between “fight” and “defeat”. The purpose of fighting is the “defeat” of one’s opponent. “Fight” also refers to the process of gaining something by struggle. For instance, a football team can fight their way to the top of the league table. Fight in this sense would, therefore, not refer to attacking an opponent for the purpose of harming them. “Fight” can be used positively; a person can struggle to succeed in life. The word “fight” does not, therefore, refers to harming other people. It can also refer to ethical and credible means of achieving success. For instance “he fought for the price” (Fortescue 91).

When used as a noun, “fight” means a battle, a physical struggle, or combat. In addition, “fight” when used as a noun may also refer to a quarrel, a contest, or a struggle. For instance, “Tom and Jane quarreled” can have the same meaning as “Tom and Jane fought”. “Fight” and “quarrel” can be used interchangeably, however, in some instances “quarrel” may not involve the use of force, and speech can be used when people are quarreling (Collinsdictionary.com, def. 4).

Cultural Definition

The usage of the word in language use depends upon the context. Thus, the word “fight” has numerous definitions according to the context in which it is used. For example, “Malcolm X dedicated his life to fighting racism”. In this context, “fight” means “struggling to overcome an unpleasant situation in the society, with or without the use of force. In addition, “fight” also means to “eliminate” and “to prevent” (Macmillandictionary.com, def. 1).

Personal Interpretation

There are also phrases in English that can help in the understanding of the word “fight”. For instance, “fight fire with fire”. This phrase is used when referring to “revenge”. When a person is attacked by weapons, he or she is also expected to react in a similar manner. Responding to fights using weapons is not considered as “fighting fire with fire”.

Another phrase that can help in defining “fight” is: “fight like a cat and dog” or “engaging in catfights”. These phrases refer to continuous fights that never end.

“Fighting a losing battle” is another example of how the word “fight can be used in phrases talking about different situations or contexts. In this case, “fighting a losing battle” refers to the probability of not registering any success in the fighting activity (Thefreedictionary.com).

Extended Definition

The word “conquer” can also refer to “fight”. “Conquer” can be used to refer to “a single battle”. However, it may also refer to a one-to-one fight or sporting contest. “Conquer” is a more general word than “defeat” and does not imply that the loser (opponent) necessarily acknowledges his defeat in any way. ‘Conquer’ and ‘defeat’ can be used to give a detailed meaning to the word “fight”. The main aim of “fighting” is to defeat and conquer a person or a community (Brainyquote.com, def. 3).

Consider this sentence: “fighting bulls can be dangerous”. The sentence is ambiguous because two meanings can be taken from the sentence. First, “bulls engaging in a fight are dangerous”. Second, “attacking bulls is dangerous to human beings”. The sentence shows how different meanings of “fight” can be inferred depending on the context or situation. Language use is entirely contextual. Meaning of words changes depending on the context in which they are used (Brainyquote.com, def 6).

Finally, “fighting” can be used to present abstract ideas. For example, ideological wars where human beings try to influence the minds of other people can also be referred to as “ideological fights”. Trying to impose thinking on a certain population; to make them think or behave in a certain manner can refer to “ideological fighting”. The cold war was “a fight” of ideas that never used force. In this era, national policies and ideologies were used in “fighting” enemies.

Works Cited

Brainy Quote. 2012. Web.

“Fighting” Macmillan Dictionary. 2012.Web.

“Fighting” Your dictionary. Web.

“Fight” Oxford Dictionary. Web.

“Fight” The Free dictionary. Web.

“Fight” Collins dictionaries. Web.

Fortescue, Micheal. A Neutral Network Model of Lexical Organization. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. 2009. Print.

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"Definition and Interpretation of "Fight"." IvyPanda, 30 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/definition-and-interpretation-of-fight/.

1. IvyPanda. "Definition and Interpretation of "Fight"." August 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/definition-and-interpretation-of-fight/.


IvyPanda. "Definition and Interpretation of "Fight"." August 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/definition-and-interpretation-of-fight/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Definition and Interpretation of "Fight"." August 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/definition-and-interpretation-of-fight/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Definition and Interpretation of "Fight"'. 30 August.

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