Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A prearranged, formal combat between two persons, usually fought to settle a point of honor.
  • noun A struggle for domination between two contending persons, groups, or ideas.
  • intransitive verb To engage (another) in or as if in formal combat.
  • intransitive verb To oppose actively and forcefully.
  • intransitive verb To engage in or as if in formal combat.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A single combat; specifically, a premeditated and prearranged combat between two persons with deadly weapons, and usually in the presence of at least two witnesses, called seconds, for the purpose of deciding a quarrel, avenging an insult, or clearing the honor of one of the combatants, or of some third party whose cause he champions.
  • noun Any fight or contest between two parties; especially, a military contest between parties representing the same arm of the service.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • verb obsolete To fight in single combat.
  • noun A combat between two persons, fought with deadly weapons, by agreement. It usually arises from an injury done or an affront given by one to the other.
  • noun (Old Law) a combat between two persons for proving a cause; trial by battel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Arranged, regular combat between two private persons, often over a matter of honor.
  • noun Historically, the wager of battle (judicial combat)
  • noun Any struggle between two contending persons, groups or ideas.
  • verb To engage in a duel.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a prearranged fight with deadly weapons by two people (accompanied by seconds) in order to settle a quarrel over a point of honor
  • noun any struggle between two skillful opponents (individuals or groups)
  • verb fight a duel, as over one's honor or a woman

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English duelle, from Medieval Latin duellum, from Latin, war, archaic variant of bellum.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Medieval Latin duellum ("fight between two men"), under influence from Latin duo, from Old Latin duellum (whence Latin bellum ("war")), from Proto-Indo-European *dāu-, *deu- (“to injure, destroy, burn”).

Examples

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  • Leud in reverse. A vassal or tenant in the early Middle Ages.

    July 22, 2007

  • "Alexander Hamilton Challenges Nation to Duel."

    October 7, 2008