follow Dictionary.com

Capitol vs. capital? What's the difference?

mayhem

[mey-hem, mey-uh m] /ˈmeɪ hɛm, ˈmeɪ əm/
noun
1.
Law. the crime of willfully inflicting a bodily injury on another so as to make the victim less capable of self-defense or, under modern statutes, so as to cripple or mutilate the victim.
2.
random or deliberate violence or damage.
3.
a state of rowdy disorder:
Antagonisms between the various factions at the meeting finally boiled over, and mayhem ensued.
Origin of mayhem
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English maheym, maim < Anglo-French mahe(i)m, mahaim < Germanic; akin to Middle High German meidem gelding, Old Norse meitha to injure. See maim
Can be confused
maim, mayhem (see synonym study at maim)
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for mayhem
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Two days would seem like less than an hour, and mayhem would have no way of judging how much less.

    World Beyond Pluto C. H. Thames
  • It did not seem possible, mayhem thought now, that a mistake could be made.

    A Place in the Sun C.H. Thames
  • When Bartock prowled into view, mayhem would shout a warning.

    World Beyond Pluto C. H. Thames
  • Something, mayhem decided, had come up during transmigration.

    A Place in the Sun C.H. Thames
  • It was the monster, and now that his own hearing had slowed down, mayhem was able to hear the slower cycles of sound.

    World Beyond Pluto C. H. Thames
British Dictionary definitions for mayhem

mayhem

/ˈmeɪhɛm/
noun
1.
(law) the wilful and unlawful infliction of injury upon a person, esp (formerly) the injuring or removing of a limb rendering him less capable of defending himself against attack
2.
any violent destruction or confusion
Word Origin
C15: from Anglo-French mahem injury, from Germanic; related to Icelandic meitha to hurt. See maim
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for mayhem
n.

late 15c., from Anglo-French maihem (13c.), from Old French mahaigne "injury, wrong, a hurt, harm, damage;" related to mahaignier "to injure, wound, mutilate, cripple" (see maim). Originally, in law, the crime of maiming a person "to make him less able to defend himself or annoy his adversary" [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for mayhem

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for mayhem

16
16
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for mayhem