Definition of medley in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmɛdli/

noun (plural medleys)

1A varied mixture of people or things: an interesting medley of flavours
More example sentences
  • For main course I had calves liver, nice and pink, on haggis mash with caramelised shallots and boudin blanc with a beef jus, a splendid medley of complementary flavours.
  • His hot climate allows peaches with a low chill requirement to develop a medley of complex flavors.
  • Thick, juicy cod fillets are steamed over water that is intensely flavoured with a medley of spices, fresh herbs and aromatics.
1.1A collection of songs or other musical items performed as a continuous piece: a medley of Beatles songs
More example sentences
  • This group of 20 singers have been together for five years and will perform a medley of Christmas songs and classical pieces.
  • They performed a medley of well known songs that got the crowd going.
  • The final piece on the program was a medley of folk songs from Canada's various provinces, and went on a bit too long.
1.2A swimming race in which contestants swim sections in different strokes, either individually or in relay teams: the 400 m individual medley [as modifier]: the junior 4x50 m medley relay
More example sentences
  • I used to swim medleys at national age groups but I concentrated more on freestyle as I got older.
  • Apparently, ever since a female umpire disqualified him from the individual medley at a swimming gala he'd found it difficult to deal with older women.
  • The individual medley provided the Games with the first ever swimming champion from Zimbabwe.


Mixed; motley: a medley range of vague and variable impressions

verb (past and past participle medleyed or medlied)

[with object] archaic
Make a medley of; intermix: (as adjective medleyed or medlied) the medlied establishments of the native chiefs


Middle English (denoting hand-to-hand combat, also cloth made of variegated wool): from Old French medlee, variant of meslee 'melee', based on medieval Latin misculare 'to mix'; compare with meddle.

  • 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 medley

deadly, Hedley, redly

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: med¦ley

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