noun, plural med·leys.

a mixture, especially of heterogeneous elements; hodgepodge; jumble.
a piece of music combining tunes or passages from various sources: a medley of hit songs from Broadway shows.


Archaic. mixed; mingled.

Origin of medley

1300–50; Middle English medlee (noun and adj.) < Anglo-French, noun and adj. use of feminine of past participle of medler to mix, fight; see meddle Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for medley

Contemporary Examples of medley

Historical Examples of medley

  • He left the Polish philosopher on the threshold, agitated by a medley of feelings.

  • In this medley the sense of the present tended to disappear.

    Women's Wild Oats

    C. Gasquoine Hartley

  • Waverley reached the castle amidst a medley of conflicting passions.


    Sir Walter Scott

  • Mrs. Medley's reply was inaudible, but apparently in the affirmative.

  • There lay the medley of his books, his only friends, his real passion.

    Robert Elsmere

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

British Dictionary definitions for medley



a mixture of various types or elements
a musical composition consisting of various tunes arranged as a continuous whole
Also called: medley relay
  1. swimminga race in which a different stroke is used for each length
  2. athleticsa relay race in which each leg has a different distance
an archaic word for melee


of, being, or relating to a mixture or variety

Word Origin for medley

C14: from Old French medlee, from medler to mix, quarrel
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 medley

c.1300, "hand-to-hand combat," from Old French medlee, variant of meslee (see meddle). Meaning "combination, mixture" is from mid-15c.; that of "musical combination consisting of diverse parts" is from 1620s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper