pell-mell

adverb

1
: in mingled confusion or disorder
papers strewn pell-mell on the desk
2
: in confused haste
ran pell-mell for the door
pell-mell adjective or noun

Did you know?

The word pell-mell was probably formed through a process called reduplication. This process—which involves the repetition of a word or part of a word, with often a slight change in its form—also generated the terms flip-flop, chitchat, and shilly-shally, the last of which comes from a single-word compression of the question “Shall I?” For pell-mell, the process is believed to have occurred long ago: our word traces to a Middle French word of the same meaning, pelemele, which comes from the Old French word pesle mesle, likely a product of reduplication from the Old French word mesle, a form of mesler, meaning “to mix” or “to mingle.”

Word History

Etymology

Middle French pelemele

First Known Use

1590, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pell-mell was in 1590

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Dictionary Entries Near pell-mell

Cite this Entry

“Pell-mell.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pell-mell. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

pell-mell

adverb
ˈpel-ˈmel
1
: in confusion or disorder
2
: in great haste
pell-mell adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on pell-mell

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