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.Compare line of scrimmage.
  2. a practice session or informal game, as that played between two units of the same team.

verb (used with or without object), scrim·maged, scrim·mag·ing.

to engage in a scrimmage.

Origin of scrimmage

1425–75; late Middle English, variant of scrimish, metathetic form of skirmish
Related formsscrim·mag·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for scrimmage

skirmish, scuffle, play, practice, fight, game, battle, row, scrabble

Examples from the Web for scrimmage

Contemporary Examples of scrimmage

Historical Examples of scrimmage

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for scrimmage



a rough or disorderly struggle
American football the clash of opposing linemen at every down


(intr) to engage in a scrimmage
(tr) to put (the ball) into a scrimmage
Derived Formsscrimmager, noun

Word Origin for scrimmage

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

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