1 : free-for-all, brawl
2 : a usually public quarrel or dispute
Did You Know?
The Donnybrook Fair was an annual event held in Donnybrook-then a suburb of Dublin, Ireland-from the 13th to the 19th centuries. The fair was legendary for the vast quantities of liquor consumed there, for the number of hasty marriages performed during the week following it, and, most of all, for the frequent brawls that erupted throughout it. Eventually, the fair's reputation for tumult was its undoing. From the 1790s on there were campaigns against the drunken brawl the fair had become. The event was abolished in 1855, but not before its name had become a generic term for a free-for-all.
The two antique collectors found themselves embroiled in a spirited donnybrook over the value of an unusual piece of furniture at the auction.
"We are in the middle of a donnybrook about the threat that falling off a 'fiscal cliff' poses for national security (to say nothing of what it would do to domestic discretionary spending)." - From an article by Gordon Adams in The Inquirer (Philadelphia), October 25, 2012
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