Definition of mayhem
- movies filled with murder and mayhem
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
movies filled with murder and mayhem
a criminal who escaped from prison and caused mayhem
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.
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."
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
What made you want to look up mayhem? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).