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Battle vs Engagement vs Action

Battle, engagement, action denote a hostile meeting between opposing military forces.

Battle is commonly used of a general and prolonged combat and is distinguished, therefore, from such terms as skirmish or brush (see ENCOUNTER).

Engagement stresses the actual encountering of forces and may be applied to either a general encounter (as between entire armies) or a minor encounter (as between subdivisions or outposts).

Action is often employed in place of battle or engagement when the stress is on the idea of active, frequently sharp offensive and defensive operations.