battle line

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

battle line (plural battle lines)

  1. (military, army) The notional line on either side of which opposing forces are arrayed, and at which they meet in battle; a fortified line, short of the line where battle is expected, and behind which forces are arrayed; a forward line of infantry or other force, prepared for battle.
    • 1894, Dabney H. Maury, Recollections of a Virginian in the Mexican, Indian, and Civil Wars, 17,
      "You say he is in Armstrong's rear, do you? Damn him! That's just where I have been trying to get him all day, and I'll be in his rear directly. Face your battle lines about! Armstrong, push your skirmishers forward -- crowd 'em both ways! I'm going to Starnes. You'll hear from me in about five minutes!"
    • 1912, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars, Chapter XXVI: Through Carnage to Joy,
      We did not catch them napping, but found a well-entrenched battle line confronting us.
    • 1942 February 23, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Roosevelt's Fireside Chat,
      That is the reason why I have asked you to take out and spread before you a map of the whole earth, and to follow with me the references which I shall make to the world-encircling battle lines of this war.
    • 1965, Hugh M. Cole, The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, Chapter XX: The XII Corps Attacks the Southern Shoulder,
      The German intelligence staffs again agreed that there was no immediate threat to the Seventh Army, and that the westward advance by the Fifth Panzer Army would necessarily force the Americans to strengthen the battle line there and prohibit any thrust into the deep southern flank.
  2. (military, navy) A line of battle.
  3. (figuratively, usually plural) Any of those parts of a contest which, as a result of strategic decisions on both sides, are most closely fought and will likely determine the contest's course and outcome.
    • 2011 January 22, Phil McNulty, “Aston Villa 1 - 0 Man City”, BBC:
      Mancini's side only showed enough ambition when it was too late and by then battle lines were drawn as James Collins and former City captain Richard Dunne fought a magnificent rearguard action at the heart of Villa's defence.