melee

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noun me·lee \ˈmā-ˌlā, mā-ˈ\
variants: or less commonly

mêlée

Definition of melee

  1. :  a confused struggle; especially :  a hand-to-hand fight among several people They were seriously injured in the melee.

melee was our Word of the Day on 06/02/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of melee in a sentence

  1. a verbal disagreement at the football game soon turned into a general melee involving scores of spectators

Did You Know?

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 melee, 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").

Origin and Etymology of melee

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


First Known Use: circa 1648


MELEE Defined for English Language Learners

melee

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noun me·lee \ˈmā-ˌlā, mā-ˈ\

Definition of melee for English Language Learners

  • : a confused struggle or fight involving many people



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contemplative of or relative to the past

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