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 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 The Terror was actually a repurposed warship, having survived the War of 1812 among other skirmishes. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Fresh images of HMS Terror shipwreck could clear up lingering mysteries," 30 Aug. 2019 Both countries claim all of Kashmir but each only governs part of it after fighting wars and countless skirmishes over the decades. NBC News, "Kashmir: India's Modi to give speech as tension rises with Pakistan," 8 Aug. 2019 Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in 10 years, with countless bloody skirmishes in the interim. Heidi Levine, National Geographic, "Plastics in the Gaza Strip are both a curse and a blessing," 7 Aug. 2019 As with farmers, there’s not much winning, and ongoing tweeted skirmishes have global fish markets skittish. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump’s trade war with China takes a big bite out of Alaska and US seafood sales," 6 Aug. 2019 The bucolic bedroom community of Fremont seems like an unlikely backdrop for California’s latest skirmish over what to do with its burgeoning homeless population. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Protests over Fremont’s proposed homeless plan sets off a firestorm of debate online," 17 July 2019 That's a separate issue from lyrics licensing, which stirred up another skirmish earlier this week when lyrics website Genius Media accused Google of copying lyrics from its site to display above lyrics search results. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "Pandora Slapped With Copyright Lawsuit for Displaying Tom Petty, The Doors & More Song Lyrics," 18 June 2019 In our own time, as has been the case for more than two centuries, fights about nationalism easily turn into skirmishes over language. Time, "Americans and Brits Have Been Fighting Over the English Language for Centuries. Here’s How It Started," 11 June 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

30 Oct 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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an agreement to stop fighting a war

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