skirmish

noun
skir·​mish | \ ˈskər-mish \

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

Nearly 20 people — including police — were injured in Saturday’s skirmish, which could cost the city $1.7 million. Alex Ward, Vox, "People in yellow vests are deeply unhappy with Emmanuel Macron.," 27 Nov. 2018 Photo: Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press As Mr. Ghosn’s detention nears the one-month mark, the legal skirmishes are continuing. Patricia Kowsmann, WSJ, "The Fall of the House of Ghosn," 16 Dec. 2018 But the skirmish has the potential to grow into an even bigger fight if Russia uses warships and warplanes to keep Ukrainian vessels out of the Sea of Azov. Alex Ward, Vox, "Russia just openly attacked Ukraine. That could mean their war will get worse.," 26 Nov. 2018 The skirmish over voter access isn’t limited to North Dakota. Blake Nicholson, The Seattle Times, "In North Dakota, tribes scramble to clear voter ID hurdle," 26 Oct. 2018 The skirmish began Tuesday when a 55-year-old man allegedly began shouting at other patrons and went behind the counter, WTTG-TV reported. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Chick-fil-A employee fired, customer arrested after 'incredibly disturbing' brawl inside DC restaurant," 7 Sep. 2018 Now comes the league's review process, where it will be decided if Thompson — or Cavs forward Kevin Love, who wasn't in the game at the time of the skirmish but walked a few steps onto the court — will receive any type of punishment. Aj Neuharth-keusch, USA TODAY, "Could Tristan Thompson be suspended for Game 1 altercation with Draymond Green?," 1 June 2018 Bennett was penalized along with two other Seahawks after the skirmish. Jeff Mclane, Philly.com, "Film breakdown: What Michael Bennett brings to the Eagles' defensive line," 8 Mar. 2018 The countries' poorly marked western sea boundary has been the scene of several deadly naval skirmishes in recent years. Fox News, "Denuclearization, improving ties on Korean summit agenda," 18 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 In a 2009 San Diego Union-Tribune article, Richard Crawford said Smith’s actions came as American sailors and Marines were skirmishing with Mexican locals, called Californios, over possession of the state. Pauline Repard, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Richard Smith joins 172-year family history of Old Town flag-waving," 23 June 2018 Washington and Beijing have skirmished over trade this year, increasing tariffs on some products and threatening to do so on tens of billions of dollars in other goods. WSJ, "China’s Trade Surplus Narrows—but Not With the U.S.," 8 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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Dictionary Entries near skirmish

skip zone

Skire Thursday

skirl

skirmish

skirmish line

skirr

skirreh

Statistics for skirmish

Last Updated

23 Jan 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 \

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

Comments on skirmish

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