skirmish

1 of 2

noun

skir·​mish ˈskər-mish How to pronounce skirmish (audio)
1
: a minor fight in war usually incidental to larger movements
2
a
: a brisk preliminary verbal conflict
b
: a minor dispute or contest between opposing parties
the debate touched off a skirmish

skirmish

2 of 2

verb

skirmished; skirmishing; skirmishes

intransitive verb

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The bill, though, is entangled in larger disputes over which factions of the raucous GOP conference control the House, how Republicans will attempt to hang on to the chamber in November’s elections and the early skirmishes in the debates that will ensue when the Trump tax cuts expire in 2025. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, 5 Feb. 2024 DeSantis has won this first skirmish against Disney, but where things go from here is anyone’s guess. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 1 Feb. 2024 After a resulting confrontation, which included skirmishes with officers, nine people were arrested, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. Katherine Rosman, New York Times, 10 Jan. 2024 Footage of the tunnels, as well as the violent skirmishes between some of the Chabad men and the NYPD, went viral, racking up thousands of retweets on X, formerly known as Twitter. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 9 Jan. 2024 As the sweeping orchestral music crescendos, the trailer cuts to clashes throughout the show’s first season, including Aang’s skirmish with an old friend, King Bumi (Utkarsh Ambudkar). Jp Mangalindan, Peoplemag, 23 Jan. 2024 The question then becomes whether the skirmish leads to productive negotiations over taxes – or more sustained vetoes. Katie Bernard, Kansas City Star, 18 Jan. 2024 With time ticking, Trump rivals can ill afford a prolonged legal skirmish that consumes what little attention is paid the contest over the coming holiday break. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 20 Dec. 2023 Dalio expressed deep concern over the dire implications of such political skirmishes, emphasizing their potential economic and tax ramifications. Bymassimo Marioni, Fortune, 29 Nov. 2023
Verb
As recently as the 1960s, China and the Soviet Union were quarreling over the placement of their border and their troops skirmished. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, 21 Dec. 2023 War in the Middle East As a protest calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip blocked southbound traffic on the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, video footage showed angry motorists skirmishing with demonstrators. Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times, 14 Dec. 2023 Protesters also smashed windows at the Indian consulate In San Francisco and skirmished with embassy workers. Time, 20 Sep. 2023 Its constituent economies have performed unevenly, and its member states have occasionally locked horns, with India and China violently skirmishing along their rugged, contested border. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 22 Aug. 2023 Investigators were looking for evidence of stock price manipulation between February and March when the two camps were skirmishing. Patrick Frater, Variety, 19 Apr. 2023 Bohdan Tsymbal, an Azov junior sergeant, staged lighting raids with his artillery unit to skirmish with Russian fighters and gather supplies for the civilians inside the plant. New York Times, 20 July 2022 Dealing with caffeine withdrawals while simultaneously trying to skirmish for the last tin of beans is not ideal. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 26 Feb. 2022 Protesters also skirmished with officers, who fired rubber bullets and tear gas in a repeat of Tuesday night's confrontation. Doug Glass, Anchorage Daily News, 28 May 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'skirmish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near skirmish

Cite this Entry

“Skirmish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skirmish. Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

skirmish

1 of 2 noun
skir·​mish ˈskər-mish How to pronounce skirmish (audio)
1
: a minor fight between small bodies of troops
2
: a minor dispute or contest

skirmish

2 of 2 verb
1
: to engage in a skirmish
2
: to search about (as for supplies)
skirmisher noun

More from Merriam-Webster on skirmish

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