Definition of melee in English:


(also mêlée)


  • 1A confused fight, skirmish, or scuffle.

    ‘several people were hurt in the melee’
    • ‘After the initial charge, both lines are broken, and the battle degenerates into a chaotic melee.’
    • ‘Curious tourists and reporters were often trapped in the melees.’
    • ‘Amelia ducked and rolled to the side to avoid being impaled by Breanne's rapier, the fight now a melee.’
    • ‘In a melee, the combat becomes very strategic and each player can handle the combat in a different manner.’
    • ‘My family and I have been woken in the early hours by football chants, fights and general melees on occasions too numerous to recall.’
    • ‘The fight soon degenerated into a bloody melee, each man for himself.’
    • ‘Carlisle says his wife Linda was hit with a fist in the melee.’
    • ‘They managed to retrieve their son from the melee and, with a struggle, reached the safety of their home.’
    • ‘We're asked to believe that his post-match melees leave him merely bruised, when he would most likely be eating his meals through a straw.’
    • ‘When battles do occur, they usually turn into confused melees.’
    • ‘In the melee, the iron railing leading to the park's entrance on Cipero Street broke, causing fans to fall on top of each other.’
    • ‘For some reason, perhaps to differentiate rugby melees from all the other tussles, the word evolved into ‘scrummage’ with a U.’
    • ‘Several melees broke out on the field as the game threatened to spill over into all out violence.’
    • ‘Both Cork goals were scored from melees in front of the posts and both were controversial.’
    • ‘Another person involved in the melee was jailed for violent disorder after his trial for murder collapsed.’
    • ‘He described two fights within the extended melee outside the nightclub.’
    • ‘We see the use of lances with hooks, to unhorse an opponent, but there is little mounted archery, and too much man-to-man sword fighting in small, confused melees.’
    • ‘‘When people take to the battlefield it becomes a melee of killing and being killed,’ he says.’
    • ‘Then the fight became a full-on melee as the crowd found its nerve and joined the fray.’
    • ‘People panicked and stampeded, blows rained down, people fell and hurt themselves in the melee.’
    tumult, disturbance, rumpus, commotion, disorder
    brawl, fracas, fight, affray, fray, scuffle, breach of the peace, struggle, skirmish, free-for-all, tussle, quarrel
    scrap, set-to, ruction, shindy, shindig, punch-up, dust-up
    rough house
    broil, bagarre
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A confused mass of people.
      ‘the melee of people that was always thronging the streets’
      • ‘With a melee of artists, dancers, musicians and bands, the crowds gathered to enjoy the sunshine and take part in the festivities.’
      • ‘Prague by day is a melee of tourists, heads cocked skyward, nodding in disbelief at yet another beautiful building.’


Mid 17th century: from French mêlée, from an Old French variant of meslee (see medley).