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

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 first skirmishes in the battle over the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court are about timing, as Republicans seek to hold hearings and install him on the court before the new term in October. Louise Radnofsky, WSJ, "Senate’s First Skirmish Over Supreme Court Pick Brett Kavanaugh: How Quickly to Move," 11 July 2018 That led to skirmishes in market segments like payments, retail, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, health care initiatives, and more. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Alibaba v. Tencent: The Battle for Supremacy in China," 21 June 2018 But cross-border bootlegging skirmishes in the 1860s had alerted Canadians to the porous and dangerous state of their southern boundary. Porter Fox, Outside Online, "Exploring America's Forgotten Border," 1 June 2018 The Marines made a colorful group: Men who had come to France from skirmishes in Haiti and Cuba; officers such as Maj. Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post, "The Battle of Belleau Wood was brutal, deadly and forgotten. But it forged a new Marine Corps.," 31 May 2018 The Pastry War Named for a three-month skirmish in 1838 between Mexico and France, this downtown bar specializes in mezcal, tequila and sotol. Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle, "Cocktail and wine bars aplenty in the Houston area," 10 May 2018 The rapper kept it relatively vague on social media, addressing the number of people involved in the skirmish in one tweet and accentuating the positive in another. Hilary Hughes, Billboard, "Belly Allegedly Assaulted by Coachella Security: Report," 22 Apr. 2018 The water wars continue Great Lakes expert Peter Annin sees the new Foxconn development as yet another skirmish in the water wars. Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A new Great Lakes water war?," 16 Apr. 2018 The threat of tit-for-tat tariffs between Washington and Beijing is the latest skirmish in a widening trade dispute that has set the U.S. against many of its traditional allies. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "Trade War Could Knock Global Growth, Says Bank of England Governor," 5 July 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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Learn More about skirmish

Dictionary Entries near skirmish

skip zone

Skire Thursday

skirl

skirmish

skirmish line

skirr

skirreh

Statistics for skirmish

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

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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