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[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.
Also, mêlée.
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
  • At some point a fight erupted between several party-goers and knives were used in the melee.
  • At least one person was hurt in the melee.
  • So what is making me do it, making me re-enter the emotional melee that is the job search? A variety of reasons, all good.
  • In the resulting melee, two officers were injured and five businesses damaged.
  • Rescue teams reported that nine other people were wounded in the melee.
  • In the melee, some 50 soldiers and 50 civilians were wounded and more than 20 civilians killed.
  • And the next day, the police claimed that we started the melee by throwing rocks and bottles, which was patently absurd.
  • Rather than slow the action down, these documents add to the grim melee.
  • The first issue is that this kind of a melee occurred.
  • The slide sparked a bench-clearing melee.
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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