- 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.
- to engage in a skirmish.
Origin of skirmish
SynonymsSee more synonyms for skirmish on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for skirmish
And earlier that day, the 43-year-old had earned the précis, breaking up a skirmish by the Staten Island Ferry.Before Eric Garner, There Was Michael Stewart: The Tragic Story of the Real-Life Radio Raheem
December 4, 2014
As we hear in Mark 15:7, he was apparently an insurrectionist, an anti-Roman revolutionary, and had killed someone in a skirmish.The Barabbas Theory of Voting: Bible Story Shows Tough Choices for Midterms
November 2, 2014
A half-an-hour earlier they had been caught in the middle of a mortar barrage in a skirmish with separatists.Shakeup In the Ukraine Rebel High Command
August 15, 2014
That is a high death toll for Hezbollah in a skirmish inside Lebanon on its home territory.Hezbollah’s Widening War Spreads to Iraq
August 1, 2014
The first skirmish in the renewed battle for gender wage equality seemed to be won by Republicans.Obama Is Nudging the White House Toward Gender Pay Equity
April 14, 2014
Went with Pierre to the summit of Skirmish Hill, and took angles.Explorations in Australia
The skirmish lasted about fifteen minutes, the enemy firing from the houses.Ridgeway
I cut him nigh to the saddle-bow in a skirmish on the eve of Dunbar.
But after a skirmish or two, what with the roads and what with the enemy, our horses were foundered and useless.
Have you forgot the skirmish on the Rhine bank, when you did flash your snapphahn at me?
- 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
Word Origin and History for skirmish
late 14c., from Old French escarmouche "skirmish," from Italian scaramuccia, earlier schermugio, probably from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German skirmen "to protect, defend"), with a diminutive or depreciatory suffix, from Proto-Germanic *skerm-, from PIE *(s)ker- (1) "to cut" (see shear).
Influenced in Middle English by a separate verb skirmysshen "to brandish a weapon," from Old French eskirmiss-, stem of eskirmir "to fence," from Frankish *skirmjan, from the same Germanic source. Cf. also scrimmage. Other modern Germanic forms have an additional diminutive affix: German scharmützel, Dutch schermutseling, Danish skjærmydsel. Skirmish-line attested by 1864.
c.1200, from Old French escarmouchier, from Italian scaramucciare (see skirmish (n.)). Related: Skirmished; skirmishing.