Definition of mayhem
1a : willful and permanent deprivation of a bodily member resulting in the impairment of a person's fighting abilityb : willful and permanent crippling, mutilation, or disfigurement of any part of the body
2 : needless or willful damage or violence movies filled with murder and mayhem
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Examples of mayhem in a Sentence
movies filled with murder and mayhem
a criminal who escaped from prison and caused mayhem
Recent Examples of mayhem from the Web
The sack did not become an official NFL statistic until 1982, so none of the defensive players causing mayhem in opposing backfields before then have the numbers to show for it.
In that regard, since their hand was forced with Chris Bosh's maximum deal amid the mayhem of LeBron James' 2014 departure, prudence has largely defined the Heat's approach.
Similar attacks by lone assailants causing maximum mayhem but few victims have also happened in London and Paris in the past couple of days, putting European capitals on alert on the eve of the busy summer tourist season.
All the while, American police officers tried to keep a lid on the mayhem.
Rather than build to a calamitous ending, as previous seasons have done, the first episode opens in the midst of mayhem and never lets up.
Expect seven actors, 15 characters, two sets of identical twins, Ass Clown brews, and all the mayhem that combination implies.
When the deceptively laid-back Hitch agrees, in his cobra fashion, to become Lenny’s manager, mayhem and bloodshed soon follow.
As throngs of people hustled down a city street away from the mayhem, the man, in a red shirt and with a calm expression on his face, walked slowly, holding his beer, a moment also captured by television footage.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mayhem'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
mayhem Has Legal Roots
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 and Etymology 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 centurySee Words from the same year
MAYHEM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of mayhem for English Language Learners
: actions that hurt people and destroy things : a scene or situation that involves a lot of violence
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 and Etymology of mayhem
Anglo-French mahaim mahain, literally, mutilation, from Old French mahain, from mahaignier to injure, mutilate
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