Definition of mayhem in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmeɪhɛm/


[mass noun]
1Violent or extreme disorder; chaos: complete mayhem broke out
More example sentences
  • Police say they are winning the war against violent drunks who cause mayhem in the West End of the city at weekends.
  • High spirits often get out of control and lead to violence and mayhem.
  • What unfolds is a riot of comic mayhem as mistaken identity leads to uproarious farce throughout.
chaos, disorder, confusion, havoc, bedlam, pandemonium, tumult, uproar, turmoil, madness, madhouse, hullabaloo, all hell broken loose, wild disarray, disorganization, maelstrom, trouble, disturbance, commotion, riot, anarchy, destruction, violence
1.1 Law , historical The crime of maliciously injuring or maiming someone, originally so as to render them defenceless.


Early 16th century: from Old French mayhem (see maim). The sense 'disorder' (originally US) dates from the late 19th century.

  • Between the 15th and 19th centuries mayhem was a crime which involved maiming a person so that they could no longer defend themselves. In origin the word is a form of maim (Middle English), which came through French but whose ultimate origin is unknown. The modern sense ‘violent or extreme disorder’ originated in the USA in the 19th century.

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