mayhem

noun
may·​hem | \ ˈmā-ˌhem How to pronounce mayhem (audio) , ˈmā-əm How to pronounce mayhem (audio) \

Definition of mayhem

1a : 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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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."

Examples of mayhem in a Sentence

movies filled with murder and mayhem a criminal who escaped from prison and caused mayhem

Recent Examples on the Web

IndyCar Insider Jim Ayello previews Saturday's race, which has provided mayhem in the past. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "IndyCar at Texas: Tough to get read on race after rain-shortened practice," 6 June 2019 First introduced to horror audiences in 1988’s original Child’s Play, Chucky starred in six sequels, most recently delivering his brand of homicidal mayhem in 2017’s Cult of Chucky. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Mark Hamill's Chucky asks 'Are we having fun?' in first Child's Play clip," 4 June 2019 Microbial mayhem Of course, this study was all in healthy people. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Probiotics: If you don’t just poop them out, they may muck up your guts," 8 Sep. 2018 Colleges have faced difficult, high-profile choices on free-speech matters, particularly following the August mayhem at the University of Virginia, where white nationalist Richard Spencer rallied torch-bearing followers. Sarah Larimer, Washington Post, "Speaking of speech: What should colleges do when controversial figures want to come to campus?," 19 June 2018 Police said Sunday that two people had been arrested and more arrests were imminent following the mayhem at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in the east coast city of Durban. Gerald Imray, chicagotribune.com, "Hundreds of South African soccer fans riot at game," 22 Apr. 2018 Still, not to put too fine — or juvenile — a point on it, a bigger problem is that there’s nothing but ’bot-on-’bot mayhem until the climax, when familiar ugly heads are reared over Tokyo. Tom Russo, BostonGlobe.com, "‘Pacific Rim’ gets another shot, minus del Toro," 21 Mar. 2018 All the elements are there: political mayhem, the extreme gap between rich and poor, seriously violent riots in the street. Vogue, "Vogue Runway’s Critics Weigh In on the Fall 2019 Menswear Collections—And the Seismic Shifts Changing the Business," 22 Jan. 2019 Passengers aboard that flight have since come forward with their own eyewitness accounts suggesting the flight was anything but normal, with a sharp drop in altitude causing mayhem inside the cabin. Barbara S. Peterson, Popular Mechanics, "Lion Air 610 Had the Same Problem Four Flights in a Row Before It Crashed," 5 Nov. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of mayhem

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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

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Dictionary Entries near mayhem

mayhap

mayhappen

mayhaw

mayhem

may I just say

maying

Maykop

Statistics for mayhem

Last Updated

11 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for mayhem

The first known use of mayhem was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for mayhem

mayhem

noun

English Language Learners Definition of mayhem

: actions that hurt people and destroy things : a scene or situation that involves a lot of violence

mayhem

noun
may·​hem | \ ˈmā-ˌhem How to pronounce mayhem (audio) , ˈmā-əm How to pronounce mayhem (audio) \

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

mayhem

noun
may·​hem | \ ˈmā-ˌhem, -əm How to pronounce mayhem (audio) \

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.

History and Etymology for mayhem

Anglo-French mahaim mahain, literally, mutilation, from Old French mahain, from mahaignier to injure, mutilate

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More from Merriam-Webster on mayhem

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mayhem

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mayhem

Spanish Central: Translation of mayhem

Nglish: Translation of mayhem for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mayhem for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about mayhem

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