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pitched battle, a

An intense conflict, as in Their disagreement turned into a pitched battle between the nurses and the physicians' assistants. This term, dating from about 1600, originally alluded to a military battle in which the array of forces and battleground are predetermined (as opposed to a hasty skirmish).
The American HeritageĀ® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright Ā© 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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