Military. a fight between small bodies of troops, especially advanced or outlying detachments of opposing armies.
any brisk conflict or encounter: She had a skirmish with her landlord about the rent.
verb (used without object)
to engage in a skirmish.

1300–50; (noun) Middle English skirmysshe < Old French eskirmiss-, long stem of eskirmir < Germanic (compare Old High German skirman); replacing Middle English scarmouche < Old French escaramoucher (see Scaramouch); (v.) late Middle English scarmuchen, scarmusshen to skirmish, Middle English skirmisshen to brandish a weapon < Old French escar(a)mucher to skirmish; vowels influenced by Old French eskirmiss-

skirmisher, noun
outskirmish, verb (used with object)

1. combat, brush. See battle1. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
skirmish (ˈskɜːmɪʃ)
1.  a minor short-lived military engagement
2.  any brisk clash or encounter, usually of a minor nature
vb (often foll by with)
3.  to engage in a skirmish
[C14: from Old French eskirmir, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German skirmen to defend]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. escarmouche "skirmish," from It. scaramuccia, probably from a Gmc. source (cf. O.H.G. skirmen "to protect, defend"), influenced in M.E. by a separate verb skirmysshen "to brandish a weapon," from O.Fr. eskirmiss-, stem of eskirmir "to fence," from Frankish *skirmjan, from the same
Gmc. source. The verb is attested from c.1470. Cf. also scrimmage.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
From that time forward there had been a skirmish or a fight almost every day.
Commission officials were aghast at having to fight yet another skirmish.
They were frontline troops in an important skirmish.
The skirmish promptly threatened to become a full-scale trade war.
Image for skirmish
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