Definition of melee in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmāˌlā/
Pronunciation: /māˈlā/
(also mêlée)


1A confused fight, skirmish, or scuffle: several people were hurt in the melee
More example sentences
  • My family and I have been woken in the early hours by football chants, fights and general melees on occasions too numerous to recall.
  • Amelia ducked and rolled to the side to avoid being impaled by Breanne's rapier, the fight now a melee.
  • He described two fights within the extended melee outside the nightclub.
fracas, disturbance, rumpus, tumult, commotion, ruckus, disorder, fray;
brawl, fight, scuffle, struggle, skirmish, scrimmage, free-for-all, tussle
informal scrap, set-to, ruction, slugfest
1.1A confused mass of people: the melee of people that was always thronging the streets
More example sentences
  • Prague by day is a melee of tourists, heads cocked skyward, nodding in disbelief at yet another beautiful building.
  • With a melee of artists, dancers, musicians and bands, the crowds gathered to enjoy the sunshine and take part in the festivities.


Mid 17th century: from French mêlée, from an Old French variant of meslee (see medley).

  • medley from Middle English:

    A medley was originally a fight, and is the same word as melee (mid 16th century), ‘a confused fight or scuffle’. The source is French, and goes back to Latin misculare ‘to mix’, the source of mix ( see mash) and related to meddle (Middle English). The mixing and mingling of combatants in hand-to-hand fighting led to medley having a variety of uses that involve a mixture of parts. It was applied to a collection of songs or tunes performed as a continuous piece in the 17th century, and the swimming event with each part involving a different stroke appeared in the 1920s.

Words that rhyme with melee

pappardelle, Pelé

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: me·lee

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