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[skrim-ij] /ˈskrɪm ɪdʒ/
a rough or vigorous struggle.
  1. the action that takes place between the teams from the moment the ball is snapped until it is declared dead.
  2. a practice session or informal game, as that played between two units of the same team.
verb (used with or without object), scrimmaged, scrimmaging.
to engage in a scrimmage.
Origin of scrimmage
1425-75; late Middle English, variant of scrimish, metathetic form of skirmish
Related forms
scrimmager, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for scrimmage
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Outnumbered twenty to one, they began to go down in the scrimmage.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • How will it go with young O'Shea about this scrimmage, will it be serious?'

    Lord Kilgobbin Charles Lever
  • He was ashamed 172 because he had shown the white feather in the scrimmage.

    The Pirate of Panama William MacLeod Raine
  • They had been in a scrimmage with the Chippewas and had their wounded with them and many gory scalps, too.

  • I must have dropped it, sir, in the scrimmage—it was awful 'ot, sir!

    On the Heels of De Wet

    The Intelligence Officer
  • It was the first scrimmage for the third squad fellows and they raced on eagerly.

    Left End Edwards Ralph Henry Barbour
British Dictionary definitions for scrimmage


a rough or disorderly struggle
(American football) the clash of opposing linemen at every down
(intransitive) to engage in a scrimmage
(transitive) to put (the ball) into a scrimmage
Derived Forms
scrimmager, noun
Word Origin
C15: from earlier scrimish, variant of skirmish
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
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Word Origin and History for scrimmage

sometimes also scrummage, late 15c., alteration of skirmish (n.). Meaning in rugby and U.S. football dates from 1857, originally "a confused struggle between players."


1825, "quarrel, argue," from scrimmage (n.). Team sports sense is from 1881. Related: Scrimmaged; scrimmaging.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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