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a battle royal
1. A fight in which more than two participants are involved and the last person to survive is declared the winner. The men were eager to see who would be declared the wrestling champion at the end of the battle royal.
2. A heated argument. Things got pretty heated between the union and the school board at the meeting last night. It was quite the battle royal!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
battle royala fiercely contested fight or dispute.
1997 Fred Chappell Farewell, I'm Bound to Leave You The boys told no one about the fight…it was a battle royal and went on from two o'clock in the afternoon until sundown.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
A fierce battle or free-for-all. In the seventeenth century the term signified a cockfight in which more than two birds were engaged. They would fight until there was only one survivor. By the eighteenth century the expression was a metaphor for any general fight, including a battle of wits.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer