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or mêlée

[mey-ley, mey-ley, mel-ey] /ˈmeɪ leɪ, meɪˈleɪ, ˈmɛl eɪ/
a confused hand-to-hand fight or struggle among several people.
confusion; turmoil; jumble:
the melee of Christmas shopping.
Origin of melee1
1640-50; < French mêlée. See medley


[mey-ley, mey-ley] /ˈmeɪ leɪ, meɪˈleɪ/
a group of diamonds, each weighing less than 0.25 carat.
1910-15; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for melee
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And even then, all do not escape, for some of them are sure to be lassoed in the melee.

  • I found myself in the midst of a melee with my hand at his throat and his at mine.

    The Silent Bullet Arthur B. Reeve
  • In the melee we noticed the front end of a gasoline launch rise from some snags—a wreck, buoyed up by the air in the tank.

    The houseboat book William F. Waugh
  • I understand there has been a melee, not much; merely a rouette; do get it all out of him.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • Lacey's pistol was in his hand, David's sword was gripped tight, as they rushed upon the melee.

    The Weavers, Complete Gilbert Parker
British Dictionary definitions for melee


a noisy riotous fight or brawl
Word Origin
C17: from French mêlée. See medley
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for melee

1640s, from French mêlée, from Old French meslee "brawl, confused fight; mixture, blend" (12c.), noun use of fem. past participle of mesler "to mix, mingle" (see meddle). See also medley. Borrowed in Middle English as melle but lost and then reborrowed 17c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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