c.1300, "to contend with blows or arguments," from O.Fr. batre "to hit, beat, strike," from L.L. battere, from L. batuere "to beat, knock" (see batter
(v.)). In falconry, "to beat the wings impatiently and flutter away from the perch." Figurative sense of "to flutter downward" attested from 1580s.