• synonyms


or mê·lée

[mey-ley, mey-ley, mel-ey]
See more synonyms for melee on Thesaurus.com
  1. a confused hand-to-hand fight or struggle among several people.
  2. confusion; turmoil; jumble: the melee of Christmas shopping.
Show More

Origin of melee1

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


[mey-ley, mey-ley]
  1. a group of diamonds, each weighing less than 0.25 carat.
Show More

Origin of melee2

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

Related Words

tussle, clash, brawl, ruckus, scuffle, scrimmage, fracas, skirmish, brouhaha, free-for-all, to-do, rumpus, affray, brush, words, ruction, broil, fray, row, set-to

Examples from the Web for melee

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for melee



  1. a noisy riotous fight or brawl
Show More

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


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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper