Definition of brawl in English:



  • A rough or noisy fight or quarrel.

    • ‘Now what about in an altercation like a pub brawl or a street brawl where someone is bitten?’
    • ‘From her vantage point, however, Em was only given a view of the drunken brawl, which had deteriorated into a hissy fight.’
    • ‘Moreover, most murders are committed during the heat of the moment, whilst having blazing arguments with a spouse or during drunken brawls in the pub.’
    • ‘There is almost no trace of the bustling mining town in which there were countless brawls and shootouts at bars with such evocative names as The Bucket of Blood Saloon.’
    • ‘He was big but he was out of shape, obviously more used to drunken brawls than to serious street fighting.’
    • ‘As a nurse, she had seen victims of bar fights and street brawls, but these wounds were some of the worst she had seen.’
    • ‘But, from a taxi driver's point of view, on Easter weekend you could not go round a corner without seeing drunken brawls all over the town.’
    • ‘Tribal loyalties were paramount; other than that, nothing served to mitigate the blood feuds, drunken brawls and orgies that the harsh life of the desert gave sway to.’
    • ‘The case involved charges arising from a vicious brawl in a sports bar.’
    • ‘The proportion of street killings that resulted from drunken brawls plunged by two-thirds between 1875 and 1920.’
    • ‘‘Most of the festivals here are just drunken brawls for children,’ she laments.’
    • ‘Drunken brawls represented the leading single source of homicide in late nineteenth-century Chicago.’
    • ‘It's much too barbaric and such things are left to bar fights and street brawls.’
    • ‘It is often a clash of egos with no more interest than a street brawl.’
    • ‘There was peace at last and only the infrequent traffic in Wilde Street and a drunken brawl or two outside disturbed the peace of our new home.’
    • ‘Since turning pro in 1988, he has earned a reputation as a warrior in the ring, not afraid of turning his fights into street brawls.’
    • ‘And, what is more, the good guys guzzling liquor is a celebrated feature in mainstream cinema and drunken brawls are sometimes necessary ingredients.’
    • ‘While hundreds of drunken street brawls take place every weekend across the UK, few of the perpetrators - if any - would want a death on their hands.’
    • ‘It was easy to turn a drunken brawl into a gunfight.’
    • ‘They still went about armed even in peacetime, unlike Roman aristocrats in times of empire, and drunken brawls or even complicated feuds might break out at any time.’
    fight, fist fight, skirmish, scuffle, tussle, fracas, scrimmage, fray, melee, rumpus, altercation, wrangle, clash, free-for-all, scrum, brouhaha, commotion, uproar
    fisticuffs, rough and tumble
    scrap, dust-up, set-to, shindy
    punch-up, bust-up, ruck, bit of argy-bargy
    rammy, swedge, square go
    roughhouse, brannigan
    broil, bagarre
    View synonyms


  • 1 Fight or quarrel in a rough or noisy way.

    • ‘Early yesterday morning, he was arrested after brawling with two guests at a Brooklyn hotel.’
    • ‘Witnesses told investigators eight to 15 people were brawling with the agents before the agents left without their van.’
    • ‘For three days, two unevenly matched teams have brawled, they have hurled almost everything at each other, and any time one has deigned to take the advantage, the other has clawed it back.’
    • ‘Then the whole tacky and demoralised affair will descend into brawling as each union fights for its own factional interests, including grabbing a greater share of the rapidly dwindling dues base.’
    • ‘The two brawled like children fighting over a lollipop.’
    • ‘But how can our economy get better if we are always engaged in fighting and brawling with each other?’
    • ‘It all began when the casino fired its only female warehouse employee for brawling with a co-worker.’
    • ‘The fight had been one of those epic barroom brawls right out of a John Wayne movie.’
    • ‘He had visited two pubs and Jems nightclub when he was spotted brawling with another man near the taxi rank, in the early hours of last Friday.’
    • ‘The camera weaves its way through a motley crew of punk and ‘new wave’ types as they carouse, brawl, and struggle to assert themselves over the noise and chaos.’
    • ‘A few minutes after the match, they were brawling in the parking lot backstage and the security broke them up.’
    • ‘Those attending will be able to take part in action scenes such as sword fighting and western-style bar room brawls, all under the expert tuition of some of the world's leading stuntmen.’
    • ‘The family of a 35-year-old man, who died after brawling with another man outside his home, said they have been left with more questions than answers after a Bolton coroner recorded an open verdict.’
    • ‘Almost the entire match was brawling in the stands, including in the upper deck (which was pretty packed after some small crowds the past few weeks).’
    • ‘He was imprisoned in October 1608 for brawling with other knights.’
    • ‘Yet again, while trying to appeal to the world's most sophisticated market, the impression is of Scots doing what we do best - squabbling and brawling with each other while shocked onlookers avert their gaze.’
    • ‘He was arrested for allegedly brawling with a fan at a show in San Francisco on Tuesday.’
    • ‘Cartwright was brawling with another man when officers arrived at the scene and had to be pulled away.’
    • ‘Their neighbors are ninja types who are constantly brawling with other evil ninja types.’
    • ‘He was able to hold his own in any society and at other times brawl with the roughest of the rough in the bush pubs where he often drank to excess.’
    fight, skirmish, scuffle, tussle, exchange blows, come to blows, struggle, grapple, wrestle, scrimmage
    scrap, have a dust-up, have a set-to
    have a punch-up
    stoush, go the knuckle
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1literary (of a stream) flow noisily.
      • ‘It is a peaceful, not a brawling, stream.’
      • ‘Winter might have frozen them for now, but in warmer weather dozens of brawling mountain streams ran down to the northernmost tributaries of the Greenleaf River.’
      • ‘We felt that it was important to use Benner Run because it is high-quality trout water and is a beautiful area, with its rhododendron cover along the brawling stream.’
      • ‘It would have been utterly ridiculous to eschew the opportunity to double-handed fly-fish the huge and brawling salmon rivers of Swedish Lapland, just for want of the necessary skills.’
      • ‘She comforted herself at first with the thought that with the brawling, deafening stream between them, there would be no chance for embarrassing conversation.’


Late Middle English: perhaps ultimately imitative and related to bray.