Something that can only be accomplished with great effort is said to be a struggle. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a leader in the Civil Rights struggle. Alice Paul was a leader in the struggle for a woman's right to vote.

The verb form of struggle can be used for physical or mental effort. A police officer might struggle trying to detain a criminal or a student may struggle with a difficult algebra problem. If you scramble and climb awkwardly up something, you can also use the verb struggle to describe the action: "They struggled up the icy hill over and over again, so they could keep sledding."

Definitions of struggle

n strenuous effort

“the struggle to get through the crowd exhausted her”
grapple, grappling, hand-to-hand struggle, wrestle, wrestling
the act of engaging in close hand-to-hand combat
Type of:
effort, elbow grease, exertion, sweat, travail
use of physical or mental energy; hard work

n an energetic attempt to achieve something

“getting through the crowd was a real struggle
any struggle between two skillful opponents (individuals or groups)
scramble, scuffle
an unceremonious and disorganized struggle
joust, tilt
a combat between two mounted knights tilting against each other with blunted lances
Type of:
attempt, effort, endeavor, endeavour, try
earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something

n an open clash between two opposing groups (or individuals)

battle, conflict
Peasant's Revolt
a widespread rebellion in 1381 against poll taxes and other inequities that oppressed the poorer people of England; suppressed by Richard II
Indian Mutiny
discontent with British administration in India led to numerous mutinies in 1857 and 1858; the revolt was put down after several battles and sieges (notably the siege at Lucknow)
show 35 types...
hide 35 types...
class struggle, class war, class warfare
conflict between social or economic classes (especially between the capitalist and proletariat classes)
insurrection, rebellion, revolt, rising, uprising
organized opposition to authority; a conflict in which one faction tries to wrest control from another
counterinsurgency, pacification
actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency
bitter conflict; heated often violent dissension
any hard struggle between equally matched groups
turf war
a bitter struggle for territory or power or control or rights
combat, fight, fighting, scrap
the act of fighting; any contest or struggle
a bitter quarrel between two parties
war, warfare
an active struggle between competing entities
gunfight, gunplay, shootout
a fight involving shooting small arms with the intent to kill or frighten
brush, clash, encounter, skirmish
a minor short-term fight
close-quarter fighting
hand-to-hand fighting at close quarters
insurgence, insurgency
an organized rebellion aimed at overthrowing a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict
intifada, intifadah
an uprising by Palestinian Arabs (in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank) against Israel in the late 1980s and again in 2000
open rebellion against constituted authority (especially by seamen or soldiers against their officers)
a violent fight between dogs (sometimes organized illegally for entertainment and gambling)
countercurrent, crosscurrent
actions counter to the main group activity
discord, discordance
strife resulting from a lack of agreement
the art or sport of fighting with swords (especially the use of foils or epees or sabres to score points under a set of rules)
conflict between members of the same organization (usually concealed from outsiders)
a brief but vigorous fight
impact, shock
the violent interaction of individuals or groups entering into combat
dogfight, hassle, rough-and-tumble, scuffle, tussle
disorderly fighting
affaire d'honneur, duel
a prearranged fight with deadly weapons by two people (accompanied by seconds) in order to settle a quarrel over a point of honor
fistfight, fisticuffs, slugfest
a fight with bare fists
banging, battering
the act of subjecting to strong attack
beating, whipping
the act of overcoming or outdoing
affray, disturbance, fray, ruffle
a noisy fight
brawl, free-for-all
a noisy fight in a crowd
cut-and-thrust, knife fight, snickersnee
fighting with knives
gang fight, rumble
a fight between rival gangs of adolescents
single combat
a fight between two people
drug war
conflict between law enforcement and those who deal in illegal drugs
trench warfare
a struggle (usually prolonged) between competing entities in which neither side is able to win
blood feud, vendetta
a feud in which members of the opposing parties murder each other
Type of:
group action
action taken by a group of people

v make a strenuous or labored effort

“She struggled for years to survive without welfare”
drive, labor, labour, push, tug
strive and make an effort to reach a goal
behave awkwardly; have difficulties
reach, strain, strive
to exert much effort or energy
Type of:
assay, attempt, essay, seek, try
make an effort or attempt

v exert strenuous effort against opposition

“he struggled to get free from the rope”
Type of:
endeavor, endeavour, strive
attempt by employing effort

v be engaged in a fight; carry on a fight

contend, fight
show 52 types...
hide 52 types...
bear down
exert full strength
fight with the fists
join battle
engage in a conflict
struggle in opposition
defend, fight, fight back, fight down, oppose
fight against or resist strongly
get back, settle
get one's revenge for a wrong or an injury
fight back
defend oneself
battle, combat
battle or contend against in or as if in a battle
make or wage war
assail, attack
launch an attack or assault on; begin hostilities or start warfare with
fight a duel, as over one's honor or a woman
joust against somebody in a tournament by fighting on horseback
chicken-fight, chickenfight
fight while sitting on somebody's shoulders
engage in a tourney
carry out a feud
engage in a skirmish
exchange blows
fight with fencing swords
engage in a boxing match
fight with spurs
scuffle, tussle
fight or struggle in a confused way at close quarters
engage in a wrestling match
engage, wage
carry on (wars, battles, or campaigns)
show strong objection or repugnance; manifest vigorous opposition or resistance; be obstinately disobedient
engage in an aerial battle with another fighter plane
combat to overcome an opposing tendency or force
fight a quick and surprising war
go to war, take arms, take up arms
commence hostilities
fend, resist, stand
withstand the force of something
hold out, resist, stand firm, withstand
stand up or offer resistance to somebody or something
attack by submarine
pelt, pepper
attack and bombard with or as if with missiles
charge with a tilt
hit, strike
make a strategic, offensive, assault against an enemy, opponent, or a target
counterattack, counterstrike
make a counterattack
attack with gas; subject to gas fumes
storm, surprise
attack by storm; attack suddenly
attack suddenly and without warning
invade, occupy
march aggressively into another's territory by military force for the purposes of conquest and occupation
beleaguer, besiege, circumvent, hem in, surround
surround so as to force to give up
drive back, fight off, rebuff, repel, repulse
force or drive back
bomb, bombard
throw bombs at or attack with bombs
attack with machine guns or cannon fire from a low-flying plane
attack with cannons or artillery
attack or hit with torpedoes
block, deflect, parry
impede the movement of (an opponent or a ball)
box lightly
box for a prize or money
go through boxing motions without an opponent
mud-wrestle, mudwrestle
wrestle in mud
offer, provide, put up
mount or put up
bust, raid
search without warning, make a sudden surprise attack on

v climb awkwardly, as if by scrambling

clamber, scramble, shin, shinny, skin, sputter
Type of:
move with difficulty, by grasping

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.