from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A confused struggle or fight at close quarters. synonym: brawl.
  • noun A confused tumultuous mingling, as of a crowd.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Hand-to-hand combat; mano a mano.
  • noun A naval or armor battle at an abnormally close range, extending even to disorganized crowds of people or traffic jams, using no ammunition.
  • noun A noisy or heated fight, argument or scrap
  • verb video games, slang to physically hit, as opposed to shooting or blowing up.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French mêlée, from Old French meslee, past participle of mesler, to mix; see meddle.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Borrowed from French mêlée, from Old French meslee, feminine past participle of mesler ("to mix"), derived from Latin misceō ("mix").



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  • Fight! Fight! Fight!

    November 23, 2007

  • how do you guys pronounce it?

    January 8, 2008

  • I pronounce it like may-lay but I know a lot of people who pronounce it mee-lee which just sounds plain wrong.

    January 8, 2008

  • All my stage-combat buddies say it the way I do: MEH-lay (or MAY-lay, if you have trouble imagining that).

    Edit: Isn't it actually melée? (Not to be too much of a fussbudget.)

    January 8, 2008

  • Why am I not surprised that you have stage-combat buddies, chained_bear?

    January 8, 2008

  • but which is more correct? Oddly, I think the French pronounciation emphasizes both syllables, which makes it sound like there is more emphasis on the second syllable (to our American ears).

    January 8, 2008

  • I don't think it's a question of degree of correctness. It almost depends on which dictionary you're checking. Apparently several pronunciations are correct (according to several dictionaries).

    C_b: I've also seen it as mêlée in some references.

    January 8, 2008

  • Any words that have accents and little pointy hats and other stuff are bound to lose those in the move to more common usage in English. We don't like us no pointy-hatted Franche words.

    I can't say which is "more" or "less" correct. I was just wondering if anyone had listed the version with the accent on it--which I will now call a fling because that's the noise it makes in my brain when I write one--and then discovered that yeah, I listed it. *sheepish*

    January 8, 2008

  • Is that an acute fling or a grave fling? ;->

    January 8, 2008

  • Merriam Webster's Third International gives five pronunciations, so appropriately it's a free-for-all. Just don't pronounced it Millay, as in Edna St. Vincent.

    January 8, 2008