melee

noun

me·​lee ˈmā-ˌlā How to pronounce melee (audio)
mā-ˈlā
variants or less commonly mêlée
: a confused struggle
especially : a hand-to-hand fight among several people
They were seriously injured in the melee.

Did you know?

Melee Has French Roots

Fray, donnybrook, brawl, fracas: there are many English words for confused and noisy fights, and in the 17th century melee was thrown into the mix. It comes from the French mêlée, which in turn comes from the Old French meslee, meaning "mixture." Meslee comes from the Old French verb mesler, or medler, which means "to mix." This verb is also the source of medley ("a mixture or hodgepodge") and meddle ("to mix oneself in others' affairs" or "to interfere").

Example Sentences

a verbal disagreement at the football game soon turned into a general melee involving scores of spectators
Recent Examples on the Web Nelson also showed the officer a video clip of the melee taken by someone who appears to know him. Tonya Alanez, BostonGlobe.com, 26 Sep. 2022 Along with her second-in-command officers, Izogie (No Time to Die‘s Lashana Lynch) and Amenza (Sheila Atim), the general runs into the middle of this melee, slicing any and all opponents. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 16 Sep. 2022 Officers at the scene of the melee did not realize at the time that the sergeant had been kicked in the head, according to Manansala. Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 Apr. 2022 Fanone was dragged, beaten and tased in the melee and suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury in the attack. Arden Farhi, CBS News, 28 Oct. 2022 Loading them was no one-day job and in the melee, Patches (Mrs. giraffe), kicked Smith down more than once. San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Oct. 2022 Within seconds, two dozen players were engaged at midfield in the melee, although some, like Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, were there as peacemakers. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, 19 Sep. 2022 The fight then moved to the parking lot attempted to arrest the two main people involved in the melee, the sheriff’s office said. Howard Koplowitz | Hkoplowitz@al.com, al, 14 Sep. 2022 Not only was Thursday’s press conference canceled after fighters and their teams engaged in a melee. cleveland, 10 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'melee.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

French mêlée, from Old French meslee, from mesler to mix — more at meddle

First Known Use

circa 1648, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of melee was circa 1648

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Dictionary Entries Near melee

Cite this Entry

“Melee.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/melee. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

melee

noun

me·​lee ˈmā-ˌlā How to pronounce melee (audio)
mā-ˈlā
: a confused struggle
especially : a hand-to-hand fight among several people

More from Merriam-Webster on melee

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