mayhem

noun may·hem \ ˈmā-ˌhem , ˈmā-əm \
Updated on: 3 Dec 2017

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
  • movies filled with murder and mayhem

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Examples of mayhem in a Sentence

  1. movies filled with murder and mayhem

  2. a criminal who escaped from prison and caused mayhem

Recent Examples of mayhem from the Web

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


MAYHEM Defined for English Language Learners

mayhem

noun

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 Dictionary

mayhem

noun may·hem \ ˈmā-ˌhem , ˈmā-əm \

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

Law Dictionary

mayhem

noun may·hem \ ˈmā-ˌhem, -əm \

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
Note: 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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