skirmish

noun
skir·​mish | \ ˈskər-mish How to pronounce skirmish (audio) \

Definition of skirmish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a minor fight in war usually incidental to larger movements
2a : a brisk preliminary verbal conflict
b : a minor dispute or contest between opposing parties the debate touched off a skirmish

skirmish

verb
skirmished; skirmishing; skirmishes

Definition of skirmish (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to engage in a skirmish
2 : to search about (as for supplies) : scout around

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Other Words from skirmish

Verb

skirmisher noun

Synonyms for skirmish

Synonyms: Noun

brush, encounter, hassle, run-in, scrape

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Examples of skirmish in a Sentence

Noun

Skirmishes broke out between rebel groups. Violent skirmishes with the enemy continue despite talks of peace.

Verb

Rebel groups are skirmishing with military forces. The presidential candidates skirmished over their economic plans.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The surprise invasion led to an estimated 10,000 deaths on the Allied side, with nearly 2,000 Allied troops dying on Omaha Beach, the site of the most deadly skirmish of the battle. Michael Waters, Smithsonian, "These Photos Capture the Poignancy of Past D-Day Commemorations," 5 June 2019 Police removed four activists from the Venezuelan embassy in Washington and arrested them, the latest skirmish over the diplomatic compound between the supporters of the country’s two competing leaders. Courtney Mcbride, WSJ, "Pro-Maduro Activists Evicted From Venezuelan Embassy," 16 May 2019 Saturday’s protest came at a sensitive time, with Israel and Hamas, bitter enemies that have fought three wars and dozens of smaller skirmishes, both having a strong interest in keeping things quiet. Fares Akram, The Seattle Times, "Rockets from Gaza Strip hit Israel; 4 die at border protest," 31 Mar. 2019 Wilansky was injured during a violent clash between protesters and police that became the emblematic skirmish of the months-long protest in North Dakota that tried to block the pipeline’s final construction phase. Blake Nicholson, The Seattle Times, "Dakota Access protester injured in blast loses legal battle," 28 Aug. 2018 But there's more to the Murphy-Versace skirmish than a principle. Molly Young, GQ, "The Excessive Vision of Donatella Versace," 20 Mar. 2018 At least four people were killed and more than 300 injured in skirmishes among anti-Maduro protesters, Venezuelan soldiers and armed paramilitary groups called colectivos that are loyal to Mr. Maduro. Ryan Dube, WSJ, "U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Venezuelan Regime," 25 Feb. 2019 Ethiopia and Eritrea have not opened diplomatic relations and their forces have engaged in skirmishes a number of times in recent years. Washington Post, "Eritrean delegation in Ethiopia for peace talks," 26 June 2018 But lately, the combative gun-rights activist has been winning a lot of skirmishes in San Antonio. Brian Chasnoff, San Antonio Express-News, "Gun rights activist targeting GOP candidate," 4 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Officials have skirmished over foreign washing machines and Canadian softwood lumber imports. The Economist, "America is deploying a new economic arsenal to assert its power," 6 June 2019 Armed separatists have skirmished with road workers and the military, which is now overseeing highway construction. Jennifer Smith, WSJ, "Today’s Logistics Report: Shrinking Japan’s Fleet; Squeezing the Grocers; Highway Dividing Lines," 8 Mar. 2019 Although outright fighting stopped, the two countries have skirmished a number of times in recent years and the peace agreement has not been implemented. Elias Meseret, The Seattle Times, "Ethiopia welcomes 1st delegation from rival Eritrea in years," 26 June 2018 Ethiopia and Eritrea have not had diplomatic ties since the war began in 1998, with Abiy himself fighting in a town that remains contested today, and the countries have skirmished since then. Elias Meseret, The Christian Science Monitor, "Ethiopia and Eritrea unite after ending 20-year border war," 9 July 2018 Ethiopia had refused to accept the deal's handing of key locations to Eritrea and the countries have skirmished over the years. Elias Meseret, Fox News, "Ethiopia, Eritrea leaders to meet 'soon' in surprising thaw," 28 June 2018 Ethiopia had refused to accept the deal’s handing of key locations to Eritrea and the countries have skirmished over the years. Washington Post, "Ethiopia, Eritrea leaders to meet ‘soon’ in surprising thaw," 28 June 2018 Ethiopia and Eritrea have not had diplomatic ties since the fighting began in 1998, with Abiy himself fighting in the war, and the countries have skirmished since then in one of Africa's longest-running conflicts. Elias Meseret, Fox News, "With hugs, leaders of rivals Ethiopia, Eritrea finally meet," 8 July 2018 Screens above the walkway showed footage of neo-Nazis and other white supremacists skirmishing with protesters in Charlottesville, Va., last summer. Matthew Hay Brown, baltimoresun.com, "In Washington, U2 traces its history on 'Experience + Innocence' tour," 18 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'skirmish.' 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 skirmish

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for skirmish

Noun

Middle English skyrmissh, alteration (influenced by Anglo-French eskermir to fence (with swords), protect, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German scirmen to protect, scirm shield) of skarmuch, from Anglo-French escarmuche, from Old Italian scaramuccia — more at screen

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Learn More about skirmish

Dictionary Entries near skirmish

skip zone

Skire Thursday

skirl

skirmish

skirmish line

skirr

skirreh

Statistics for skirmish

Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for skirmish

The first known use of skirmish was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for skirmish

skirmish

noun

English Language Learners Definition of skirmish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a brief and usually unplanned fight during a war
: a minor or brief argument or disagreement

skirmish

verb

English Language Learners Definition of skirmish (Entry 2 of 2)

: to be involved in a skirmish

skirmish

noun
skir·​mish | \ ˈskər-mish How to pronounce skirmish (audio) \

Kids Definition of skirmish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a minor fight in war
2 : a minor argument

skirmish

verb
skirmished; skirmishing

Kids Definition of skirmish (Entry 2 of 2)

: to take part in a fight or dispute

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More from Merriam-Webster on skirmish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for skirmish

Spanish Central: Translation of skirmish

Nglish: Translation of skirmish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about skirmish

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