Definition of skirmish in US English:

skirmish

noun

  • 1An episode of irregular or unpremeditated fighting, especially between small or outlying parts of armies or fleets.

    • ‘Occasional skirmishes continued over the border during the 1980s, with over 1,000 people being killed.’
    • ‘No, this won't be a naval skirmish with some oppressive foreign dictator.’
    • ‘Whites fought frequent wars and skirmishes through the later nineteenth century as they pushed into Native Americans' lands.’
    • ‘Such incidents may seem minor, but they represent skirmishes in a larger battle.’
    • ‘Commissioned a lieutenant colonel in 1754, he fought the first skirmishes of what grew into the French and Indian War.’
    • ‘For three years it has been negotiating peace with Manila, all the while keeping up skirmishes against the national army.’
    • ‘Fix the enemy in place using skirmishes, artillery, feints, and demonstrations while probing his lines.’
    • ‘Relations with Israel have long been contentious and border skirmishes are fought periodically between the two nations.’
    • ‘The Marines who let me through the skirmish line filed their reports on Booth's death.’
    • ‘McClernand reputably organized and led his brigade, division, and finally, corps in skirmishes and battles of the Western Theater.’
    • ‘In a few cases, their battles have been won, in others they were fighting the initial skirmishes of later battles.’
    • ‘A skirmish broke out after troops ran across a boat belonging to the rebels.’
    • ‘The skirmishes fought by the Gäian Retributors were bloody and their terrorist actions vicious.’
    • ‘Now, in five years, there have been no provocations save one, a naval skirmish in 2002.’
    • ‘The Constitutional Court's decision is only a skirmish in the broader battle between the executive and the judiciary.’
    • ‘The key now is to tune out the ‘white noise’ and stop fighting the daily skirmishes of the last war.’
    • ‘There were only a few minor skirmishes left, but they were quickly being ended.’
    • ‘Yon describes a full month of bloody skirmishes in the streets of Mosul, complete with body counts.’
    • ‘Both on its advance and retreat, Jacobites fought skirmishes at Clifton, in the Eden valley.’
    • ‘They do not seek a decisive battle, and they prefer to engage in raids, skirmishes, and ambushes.’
    fight, battle, clash, conflict, encounter, confrontation, engagement, fray, contest, combat, tussle, scrimmage, fracas, affray, melee
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A short argument.
      ‘there was a skirmish over the budget’
      • ‘Who would have bet on Mjallby being the one on the seat of his shorts trackside after an unlikely skirmish between David and Goliath?’
      • ‘When some of the dust of those culture war skirmishes cleared, the budget of the NEA had been riven.’
      • ‘The favorable legal climate does not mean that skirmishes don't occur.’
      • ‘And it's just the latest skirmish in the war over digital music, movies, and books.’
      • ‘Teddy Roosevelt was the same though he had a few minor skirmishes.’
      • ‘Both furs jumped to their feet, and a very short skirmish ensued.’
      • ‘None of them bothered to change out of their street clothes, expecting a short skirmish only.’
      • ‘Short of adverse personnel actions, a few skirmishes have broken out involving controversial campus events and visitors.’
      • ‘Stay tuned - literally - and we'll see how this latest skirmish in the media wars turns out.’
      • ‘I never got the feeling that this was an actual skirmish occurring in front of me.’
      • ‘Carey may have won the opening skirmish, but the Europeans aren't crying uncle yet.’
      • ‘When these disappeared, she fought and won a brief skirmish with her conscience.’
      • ‘Yesterday there was a short skirmish in the woods outside the town of Nyda.’
      • ‘Once in a while, there's a short skirmish and someone dies, but it's all dull and uninspired.’
      • ‘When Jock discovers his daughter with the piper, a skirmish ensues and an official inquest is called.’
      • ‘Skirmishes continue to break out in the US over science education in public schools.’
      • ‘When the emperors soldiers came to reclaim the hawk, a brief skirmish ensued and the hawk was not returned.’
      • ‘Other than the budget skirmishes, there just doesn't seem to be much going on.’
      argument, quarrel, squabble, contretemps, disagreement, difference of opinion, dissension, falling-out, dispute, disputation, contention, clash, altercation, exchange, war of words
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verb

[no object]often as noun skirmishing
  • Engage in a skirmish.

    ‘reports of skirmishing along the border’
    • ‘In short, it was to dilapidation what the American Civil War was to skirmishing.’
    • ‘A little after this, they skirmished briefly with Byzantine troops.’
    • ‘In this context, an ideal lawn was less about skirmishing with crabgrass than defending the urban landscape from weeds.’
    • ‘She leaves the frame, and one of the boys is skirmishing with a football.’
    • ‘The army reached Iconium in the middle of August and skirmished with Turkish forces near Heraclea later that month.’
    • ‘There was now open skirmishing between the Greeks and the Latins.’
    • ‘Armed gangs, constituents of rival warring factions, skirmished for control of the camps.’
    • ‘In addition to skirmishing with German patrols, the group destroyed a bridge north of Graignes to interrupt one German route to the fighting.’
    • ‘But by early summer, Chicago's hotel workers were skirmishing on the job.’
    • ‘But they can expect little sympathy from the anti-globalisation protesters, already skirmishing yesterday with the police in south-west France.’
    • ‘At age 15, he was travelling Italy with Lazio's infamous Irriducibili hooligans, skirmishing with police and opposing supporters.’
    • ‘After skirmishing with a civilian wagon train on O'Fallon's Creek, they crossed the Yellowstone River two or three days before Christmas.’
    • ‘The two armies skirmished occasionally throughout the month, but no serious fighting developed.’
    • ‘In recent months King has been skirmishing bitterly with Catholic bishops over immigration policy.’
    • ‘In the early skirmishing it was Motherwell who were the assured side.’
    • ‘They could adopt a new method of combat, that is, fighting in columns and skirmishing.’
    • ‘There was some more skirmishing over the details, but finally everyone consented.’
    • ‘For the next several weeks, the 82nd and the rest of the Army skirmished with the Confederates around Marietta and Kenesaw.’
    • ‘He fought a war with Chad, skirmished with Egypt, and trained a commando group which attacked a city in southern Tunisia.’
    • ‘Azmoth the Clever, a master at leadership and full of cunning, was the scouting and skirmishing army for the One.’
    fight, do battle with, battle with, engage with, close with, combat, clash with, come to blows with, exchange blows with, struggle with, tussle with
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Origin

Middle English (as a verb): from Old French eskirmiss-, lengthened stem of eskirmir, from a Germanic verb meaning ‘defend’.

Pronunciation

skirmish

/ˈskərmɪʃ//ˈskərmiSH/