[ skur-mish ]
/ ˈskɜr mɪʃ /


Military. a fight between small bodies of troops, especially advanced or outlying detachments of opposing armies.
any brisk conflict or encounter: She had a skirmish with her landlord about the rent.

verb (used without object)

to engage in a skirmish.

Nearby words

  1. skipping,
  2. skipping-rope,
  3. skipton,
  4. skirl,
  5. skirling,
  6. skirnir,
  7. skirr,
  8. skirret,
  9. skirt,
  10. skirt chaser

Origin of skirmish

1300–50; (noun) Middle English skirmysshe < Old French eskirmiss-, long stem of eskirmir < Germanic (compare Old High German skirman); replacing Middle English scarmouche < Old French escaramoucher (see Scaramouch); (v.) late Middle English scarmuchen, scarmusshen to skirmish, Middle English skirmisshen to brandish a weapon < Old French escar(a)mucher to skirmish; vowels influenced by Old French eskirmiss-

Related formsskir·mish·er, nounout·skir·mish, verb (used with object)

Synonym study

1. See battle1. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for skirmish

British Dictionary definitions for skirmish


/ (ˈskɜːmɪʃ) /


a minor short-lived military engagement
any brisk clash or encounter, usually of a minor nature


(intr often foll by with) to engage in a skirmish
Derived Formsskirmisher, noun

Word Origin for skirmish

C14: from Old French eskirmir, of Germanic origin; related to Old High German skirmen to defend

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 skirmish
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper