pell-mell

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From French pêle-mêle from Old French pesle-mesle, apparently a rhyme based on the stem of mesler (to mix, meddle). Compare meddle, melee.

Alternative forms[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

pell-mell (comparative more pell-mell, superlative most pell-mell)

  1. Hasty, uncontrolled.
    • 1597, William Shakespeare, The First Part of King Henry the Fourth, Act V, Scene 1,
      Nor moody beggars, starving for a time / Of pellmell havoc and confusion.
    • 1883, Transactions of the Edinburgh Geological Society, Volume 4, page 204,
      These present the appearance of masses of water-worn gravel, mixed in the most pell mell confusion, the boulders being often of very large size; but I observed no striae, nor any of the blue tenacious clay of the Till, which it so much resembled.
    • 1924, Konrad Bercovici, Around the World in New York, page 134,
      The whole district presents the most pell-mell throwing together imaginable.
    • 1961, Charles J. Patterson, Letters relating to Africa south of the Sahara, especially to Nigeria, page 18,
      The pell mell, hell for leather traffic of Lagos was more pell mell, hell for leather than ever.
    • 2003, Audrey Joan Whitson, Teaching Places, page 50,
      The cattle are less disciplined, more pell-mell, heavy-footed, their hooves stamping the ground to mud in several places.

Translations[edit]

Adverb[edit]

pell-mell (not comparable)

  1. In haste, uncontrolledly, confusedly.
    • 1861, George Wilkes, The Great Battle, page 27,
      Never was there a great battle fought more pell-mell, since war began; never was valor so completely thrown away.
    • 1905, Charles Sanford Terry, The Young Pretender, page 81,
      Pell-mell they rushed for Inverness and safety, leaving the strange battlefield to the stalwart five.
    • 1996, Rodney Hall, The Island in the Mind, page 400,
      And the prompter our payments the more pell-mell the news came in and the more obligingly gruesome its detail.
    • 2006, Marion Woods, Getting Ready, 2009, A Spiritual Journey Through Poetry with Marion Woods, page 48,
      Some are already packed up well; / Others are at it, most pell mell.

Translations[edit]

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