Unfortunately, we don’t always get on well with the people in our lives. Whether (if) it’s a partner, a spouse, a boss, or a friend, sometimes we get in fights with the people we care about. It can be good to have some fighting vocabulary at hand (in your head) so that you can talk about and describe the fight later, if need be. It can also be good just to know how English speakers describe fighting.

We hope that you don’t fight with people that often, and that you won’t need this fighting vocabulary! But it’s good to know it, just in case.

To have a discussion

Fights sometimes start out as a discussion with someone. If you have a discussion, you’re talking about something with another person. It’s usually a serious talk, or one where you get in depth about a topic, or may feel very strongly about something. This is how discussions can turn into arguments: if two people are very passionate about something, they’re more willing to defend their opinion and the conversation may get louder.

For example:

  • We need to have a discussion about chores around the house. I don’t feel like they’re split evenly, and I’d like to talk about it.
  • My boss wants to have a discussion with me about the future of the company. I’m a little worried that something is wrong.

To have an argument

To have an argument is another way to say that you’re having a fight. Arguments can be really bad, and so I try to avoid them at all costs. If you’re arguing, it’s usually a loud, angry discussion. People may start yelling (speaking very loudly), and someone can say something they don’t mean. Having an argument is never fun, but it’s part of life. We just hope that after the argument you’re able to make up (be friends again) and that everything is ok.

For example:

  • Rachel had an argument with her boyfriend the other night, and came to stay at my house afterwards. I think they’ll be ok, and that she’s going to make up with him, but they just needed a little space from each other.
  • I had way too many arguments with my ex. We fought all the time, which is why I broke up with him.

To be at odds with

To be at odds with someone is a great way to say that you disagree on a topic. People often have different ideas about things or how things should be done. If you’re at odds with someone, you disagree with them quite strongly on something or how something should be done. You may get along (be friends, understand each other) great outside of this one topic, or maybe you disagree on lots of things. Either way, this is a great descriptive phrase to add to your vocabulary.

For example:

  • I’m at odds with my boss on this issue. She thinks we should hire more people for my team, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
  • We’re at odds with each other about where to go on vacation this year. She wants to go somewhere cold, and I want to go somewhere warm. It’s really annoying, because we usually get on so well!

To butt heads

Another great piece of fighting vocabulary is to butt heads with someone. For this one, you can think of how goats will knock their heads against each other when they’re fighting over territory or a mate. This is exactly what to butt heads is like. If you butt heads with someone, you disagree with them frequently (often) and will almost actively seek (look for) a disagreement with them. Have you ever butted heads with someone?

For example:

  • They’re constantly butting heads. It’s really annoying for the rest of the team, but I think they just like arguing with each other.
  • He always butts heads with his dad. They disagree about everything.

To squabble

Have you ever seen small children argue with each other? They seem to fight about nothing, and there’s no real purpose to the fight. They both are probably annoyed with each other, but they’re not yelling at one another. This is what we call squabbling. Two people are annoyed with each other and fighting with one another, but not yelling.

For example:

  • Every time I’m over at their house, they start squabbling about something. It’s really awkward and I wish they would stop.
  • A squabble broke out after her grandmother’s funeral. The whole family had been around each other for too long and were getting annoyed with each other. Everyone started fighting about nothing.

To bicker

The last bit of fighting vocabulary is to bicker. I used to bicker with my brother all the time when we were growing up. If you bicker with someone, you’re not really fighting or yelling, but being mean to them for no real reason. Siblings tend to bicker with each other often, over stupid things like who’s taking too much time in the bathroom, who always gets the biggest piece of candy, or what show to watch. Did you bicker with your siblings when you were growing up?

For example:

  • Whenever we come home for Christmas, my siblings and I start bickering. It’s like we’re all 15 again!
  • They’re one of those couples that always seem to be bickering about something, but it’s never serious, and they really love each other.

Whether it’s bickering, squabbling, butting heads, or having an argument, we hope that your disagreements don’t last long! Did you find this fighting vocabulary useful? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!


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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and hates getting in fights, but finds this fighting vocabulary very useful.

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