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free-for-all

[free-fer-awl]
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noun
  1. a fight, argument, contest, etc., open to everyone and usually without rules.
  2. any competition or contested situation that is disordered, impulsive, or out of control: a free-for-all at the buffet table.
  3. Informal. any enterprise or field of endeavor in which various companies, countries, participants, etc., compete without restriction: a price-cutting free-for-all among local stores.
adjective
  1. open to everyone.

Origin of free-for-all

An Americanism dating back to 1880–85

Synonyms

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1. brawl, fracas, scrap, melee, donnybrook.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for free-for-all

free-for-all

noun
  1. informal a disorganized brawl or argument, usually involving all those present
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

Word Origin and History for free-for-all

n.

"mass brawl" (one in which all may participate), 1881.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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