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

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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 social media skirmish mirrors a larger saga unfolding between Democratic and Republican officials. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, "Richard Grenell calls for 'political bias' review of every case overseen by ex-US Attorney Preet Bharara," 4 Jan. 2021 In a normal year, a parent-teacher skirmish over discipline might unfold in slow motion through secondhand accounts and private conversations outside school hours. Washington Post, "Distance learning is straining parent-teacher relationships," 12 Nov. 2020 On Proposition 23, a skirmish between one healthcare union and the kidney dialysis industry that began two years ago, voters refused to impose new operating rules on dialysis clinics. John Myers, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential Politics: America’s fear and loathing political season marches on," 9 Nov. 2020 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is looking for a new feud, initiating a diplomatic skirmish with President Biden that could portend additional tensions within NATO as U.S. and European allies confront the wayward leader. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Turkey’s Erdogan picks first fight with Biden," 5 Feb. 2021 The episode was a minor skirmish in a much larger battle for the future of the GOP, now raging through Republican America. Thomas Beaumont, Star Tribune, "In Iowa, a GOP stalwart becomes a casualty in party war," 30 Jan. 2021 The Indian army played down the latest skirmish, which happened on Jan. 20 near the high-altitude Nakula Pass in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim, calling it a minor face-off. Rajesh Roy, WSJ, "India and China Troops Scuffle at Border," 25 Jan. 2021 The skirmish reportedly lasted around seven hours, and at its peak some three hundred men were involved. Akash Kapur, The New Yorker, "Can We See Past the Myth of the Himalaya?," 18 Jan. 2021 The dispute in Oregon is the latest legal skirmish in the nation’s decades-long battle over affirmative action, and comes in a year in which the pandemic has starkly exposed the socioeconomic and health disparities that African-Americans face. New York Times, "A Covid-19 Relief Fund Was Only for Black Residents. Then Came the Lawsuits.," 3 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "Violent protests rock Minneapolis for 2nd night after death of handcuffed man in police custody," 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. BostonGlobe.com, "Angelina Jolie is back as Maleficent — and Michelle Pfeiffer better watch out - The Boston Globe," 17 Oct. 2019 The following week, police and protesters skirmished. Andrea Sachs, Washington Post, "Is it safe to travel to Hong Kong? I went to find out.," 20 Dec. 2019 On Monday police skirmished for hours to keep protesters from entering the Barcelona airport and shutting it down. Time, "Police and Protesters Clash in Catalonia for a Third Consecutive Night," 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. BostonGlobe.com, "HONG KONG — Pro-democracy protesters renewed pressure on the Hong Kong government Sunday with three separate marches, appealing to President Donald Trump for help and demanding that police stop using tear gas.," 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, "Pandora is being sued for showing Tom Petty song lyrics," 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, "Iran’s Zarif says he was sanctioned after declining an invitation to the White House," 5 Aug. 2019 The words were emblazoned beneath an image of the cannon on a battle flag flown at the Battle of Gonzalez where Mexican dragoons skirmished unsuccessfully with the Texian rebels to decide the matter. Myke Cole, The New Republic, "The Sparta Fetish Is a Cultural Cancer," 1 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for skirmish

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for skirmish

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Skirmish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/skirmish. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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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Comments on skirmish

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