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See also: mêlée


Alternative forms[edit]


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


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmɛˌleɪ/, /ˈmɛ.li/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈmeɪˌleɪ/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛleɪ, -ɛli


melee (plural melees)

  1. Hand-to-hand combat, brawl.
  2. A battle fought at close range, extending even to disorganized crowds of people or traffic jams.
  3. A noisy, confused or tumultuous fight, argument or scrap.
    • 2012 April 15, Phil McNulty, “Tottenham 1-5 Chelsea”, in BBC[1]:
      The ball did not appear to cross the line, a view supported by television replays as Blues captain John Terry also joined the melee, but referee Atkinson awarded the goal - to the obvious anger of Spurs and their management team.
  4. Lively contention or debate, skirmish.
  5. (military, historical) A cavalry exercise in which two groups of riders try to cut paper plumes off the helmets of their opponents, the contest continuing until no member of one group retains his plume.
  6. Small cut and polished gemstones sold in lots.



melee (third-person singular simple present melees, present participle meleeing, simple past and past participle meleed)

  1. (video games, slang) To physically hit in close quarters, as opposed to shooting, blowing up, or other ranged means of damage. Often refers to the usage of a hand-to-hand weapon.