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melee1

or mê·lée

[mey-ley, mey-ley, mel-ey]
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noun
  1. a confused hand-to-hand fight or struggle among several people.
  2. confusion; turmoil; jumble: the melee of Christmas shopping.
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Origin of melee1

From the French word mêlée, dating back to 1640–50. See medley

melee2

[mey-ley, mey-ley]
noun
  1. a group of diamonds, each weighing less than 0.25 carat.
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Origin of melee2

First recorded in 1910–15; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for melee

melee

mle

noun
  1. a noisy riotous fight or brawl
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Word Origin

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

n.

1640s, from French mêlée, from Old French meslee "brawl, confused fight; mixture, blend" (12c.), noun use of fem. past participle of mesler "to mix, mingle" (see meddle). See also medley. Borrowed in Middle English as melle but lost and then reborrowed 17c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper