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 vote to oust Gov. Tony Evers’ Cabinet secretary was the latest in a series of skirmishes between the governor and the GOP that comes as Wisconsin is losing dairy farmers at a record pace. Scott Bauer, Twin Cities, "Republicans in Wisconsin Senate fire agriculture secretary. Governor uses profanity to blast the process.," 5 Nov. 2019 The vote to oust Gov. Tony Evers' Cabinet secretary was the latest in a series of skirmishes between the governor and the GOP that comes as Wisconsin is losing dairy farmers at a record pace. Scott Bauer, chicagotribune.com, "Wisconsin GOP-controlled Senate fires agriculture secretary, Gov. Tony Evers blasts the process as ‘political BS’," 4 Nov. 2019 Robinson and Gardens wide receiver Myron Levy were later ejected from the game after a Palm Beach Central interception led to a skirmish between the teams’ players near the Central sideline. Adam Lichtenstein, sun-sentinel.com, "Palm Beach Central wins third straight district title with win over Palm Beach Gardens," 24 Oct. 2019 After violent skirmishes on Sunday between demonstrators and the police filled Santiago’s Plaza Baquedano, a central landmark, an even more massive — but peaceful — demonstration assembled there on Monday. Pascale Bonnefoy, New York Times, "Chile Unrest Spreads, With 15 Deaths Reported in Violence," 20 Oct. 2019 She is not expected to provide further concessions to the pro-democracy movement, which has spawned weekly skirmishes between police and protesters. Time, "Hong Kong Legislature to Reopen as Police Say Bomb Detonated in Escalating Violence," 15 Oct. 2019 Europe is likely to issue its own complaint against Boeing, which could ultimately lead to a tit-for-tat skirmish between the trading partners. Eric J. Lyman, Fortune, "In Italy, Pompeo Cannot Sidestep Impeachment Talk, Trade War Gripes, and One Giant Wedge of Cheese," 2 Oct. 2019 The three years of violent skirmishes between the rebels and Niger’s army had the effect of vaporizing the predominant industry. Robert Draper, National Geographic, "Surrounded by chaos, Niger is a nation on the edge," 17 June 2019 White settlers were already moving through the area, and their government was building forts and sending soldiers, prompting skirmishes over land and sovereignty that would eventually erupt into open war. Brooke Jarvis, The New Yorker, "Who Speaks for Crazy Horse?," 16 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 In battle royale games like Fortnite, players skirmish in a shrinking landscape with one goal: to be the last one standing. Jason M. Bailey, New York Times, "Fortnite Drew Imitators to Survival Games. Who Will Be the Last One Standing?," 30 July 2019 As drug companies skirmished over intellectual property, 24 million people got sicker. Katherine Eban, Quartz India, "How an Indian tycoon fought Big Pharma to sell AIDS drugs for $1 a day," 15 July 2019 Laurie Wells portrays her exasperated mom, Katherine, trying to prepare for the wedding and a fashion-magazine photo shoot while verbally skirmishing with Ellie. Don Aucoin, BostonGlobe.com, "An enjoyable tale of transformation in North Shore Music Theatre’s ‘Freaky Friday’," 15 July 2019 Officials have skirmished over foreign washing machines and Canadian softwood lumber imports. The Economist, "America is deploying a new economic arsenal to assert its power," 6 June 2019 Armed separatists have skirmished with road workers and the military, which is now overseeing highway construction. Jennifer Smith, WSJ, "Today’s Logistics Report: Shrinking Japan’s Fleet; Squeezing the Grocers; Highway Dividing Lines," 8 Mar. 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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Statistics for skirmish

Last Updated

13 Nov 2019

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
How to pronounce skirmish (audio)

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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