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


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

Other Words from skirmish


skirmisher noun

Synonyms for skirmish

Synonyms: Noun

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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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The skirmish before the funeral revolved around an agreement reached by the family, Israeli police and Palestinian officials that called for the casket to be transported in a vehicle to the church funeral service. David S. Cloud And Fatima Abdulkarim, WSJ, 14 May 2022 The skirmish left more than two dozen Palestinians injured, two seriously, after some Palestinian youths at the site started throwing rocks at police and setting off fireworks around 4 a.m., according to Israel’s Haaretz. Fox News, 22 Apr. 2022 The release of the finances immediately set off a skirmish with Republican Bob Stefanowski, a fellow multimillionaire former business executive who is battling Lamont in a rematch of their 2018 race that Lamont won by 3 percentage points. Christopher Keating, Hartford Courant, 21 Apr. 2022 Russian forces had reportedly taken much of the city, but on Wednesday, street battles were ongoing, with an especially intense skirmish around the train station. Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2022 In February, Kirk and Curiel were involved in a skirmish inside a bowling alley, where DaBaby and his entourage reportedly attacked the latter. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 26 Apr. 2022 As the situation in Ukraine initially unfolded, there was a contentious skirmish about it among Wikipedia editors. Angela Watercutter, Wired, 25 Feb. 2022 So goes the latest skirmish between those who trace their roots back to the great migration out of London in the 1960s and ’70s and those who have been in Essex much longer. James Hookway, WSJ, 24 Mar. 2022 The latest skirmish involves Macellum Advisors GP, LLC, along with its affiliates, and Kohl’s Corp KSS +4.9%. Sharon Edelson, Forbes, 18 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Cue some terrific effects makeovers — look for Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ed Skrein under the feathers — as well as action that outstrips the knights-versus-fairies skirmishing from last time., 17 Oct. 2019 The following week, police and protesters skirmished. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, 20 Dec. 2019 On Monday police skirmished for hours to keep protesters from entering the Barcelona airport and shutting it down. Time, 17 Oct. 2019 The city has had a period of relative calm since then, though police skirmished with some protesters near Prince Edward subway station on Saturday night., 2 Dec. 2019 Lyric sites like Genius have skirmished with publishers over the past several years; Genius suggested that the reprints could be defended as fair use but ultimately struck deals with record labels. Adi Robertson, The Verge, 18 June 2019 In recent months, the United States and its allies have skirmished with Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf region, where Iran has sought to impede the passage of commercial tankers through the Strait of Hormuz. Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, 5 Aug. 2019 See More

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.

First Known Use of skirmish


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for skirmish


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

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Dictionary Entries Near skirmish



skirmish line

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Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Skirmish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for skirmish


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


skirmished; skirmishing

Kids Definition of skirmish (Entry 2 of 2)

: to take part in a fight or dispute

More from Merriam-Webster on skirmish

Nglish: Translation of skirmish for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about skirmish


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