Simple Definition of mayhem
: actions that hurt people and destroy things : a scene or situation that involves a lot of violence
Full Definition of mayhem
1 a : willful and permanent deprivation of a bodily member resulting in the impairment of a person's fighting ability b : willful and permanent crippling, mutilation, or disfigurement of any part of the body
2 : needless or willful damage or violence
Examples of mayhem in a sentence
movies filled with murder and mayhem
a criminal who escaped from prison and caused mayhem
Did You Know?
Legally speaking, mayhem refers to the gruesome crime of deliberately causing an injury that permanently disfigures another. The name derives via Middle English from the Anglo-French verb maheimer ("to maim") and is probably of Germanic origin; our own verb "to maim" comes from the same ancestor. The disfigurement sense first appeared in English in the 15th century. By the 19th century the word had come to mean any kind of violent behavior; nowadays, "mayhem" can be used to suggest any kind of chaos or disorder, as in, "there was mayhem in the streets during the citywide blackout."
Origin of mayhem
Middle English mayme, mahaime, from Anglo-French mahaim mutilation, mayhem, from maheimer, mahaigner to maim, probably of Germanic origin; akin to Middle High German meiden gelding, Old Norse meitha to injure
First Known Use: 15th century
Rhymes with mayhem
Medical Definition of mayhem
: willful and permanent crippling, mutilation, or disfiguring of any part of another's body; also : the crime of engaging in mayhem <physicians, accused…of sterilizing her through trickery, were ordered held for trial on charges of conspiracy to commit mayhem—Associated Press>
Legal Definition of mayhem
: willful and permanent crippling, mutilation, or disfigurement of any part of another's body; also : the crime of engaging in mayhem
Additional Notes on mayhem
Under the Model Penal Code and the codes of the states that follow it, mayhem is encompassed by assault and aggravated assault.
Origin of mayhem
Anglo-French mahaim mahain, literally, mutilation, from Old French mahain, from mahaignier to injure, mutilate
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up mayhem? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).