[mey-ley, mey-ley, mel-ey]
- a confused hand-to-hand fight or struggle among several people.
- confusion; turmoil; jumble: the melee of Christmas shopping.
Origin of melee1
From the French word mêlée, dating back to 1640–50. See medley
- a group of diamonds, each weighing less than 0.25 carat.
Origin of melee2
First recorded in 1910–15; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for melee
In fact, Clark fell back first from her blows, losing his cap, tie, and badge in the melee.Dr. King Goes to Hollywood: The Flawed History of ‘Selma’
January 2, 2015
It was Orlando vs. Justin in an Ibiza melee with two highly unlikely opposing parties.The Bloom-Bieber Brawl We Didn’t Know We Needed
December 29, 2014
They made one last charge for the airport, and when the riot police blocked them again a melee ensued.Mexican Protesters Look to Start a New Revolution
November 21, 2014
The Kurds entered a buffer zone on the Turkish border and in the melee at least four protestor were wounded.Kobani Still Stands Against ISIS and All Odds. But for How Long?
October 12, 2014
Unconfirmed reports in Turkish Internet media said Erdogan himself had slapped a man in the melee.After 100s of Miners Die, Turkey’s Prime Minister Says “This Happens”
May 15, 2014
In the melee Redpath looked full into Allis's eyes at short range.Thoroughbreds
W. A. Fraser
I understand there has been a melee, not much; merely a rouette; do get it all out of him.Vivian Grey
Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
This was to prevent shooting our own men in the melee, and in the darkness.Personal Recollections of a Cavalryman
J. H. (James Harvey) Kidd
It is no slight advantage, in a melee of that kind, to be strong in officers.Saint Bartholomew's Eve
G. A. Henty
In the melee the master was stabbed and the slave escaped into the woods.
- a noisy riotous fight or brawl
C17: from French mêlée. See medley
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 melee
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper