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See also: pellmell


Alternative forms[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.



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

  1. Hasty and uncontrolled.
    • c. 1597 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Fourth, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene i], page 69, column 2:
      Nor moody Beggars, ſtaruing for a time / Of pell-mell hauocke, 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.
    • 2021 July 26, Steven Lee Myers; Keith Bradsher; Chris Buckley, “As China Boomed, It Didn’t Take Climate Change Into Account. Now It Must.”, in The New York Times[1], →ISSN:
      China’s pell-mell, brisk urbanization has in some ways made the challenge harder to face.



pell-mell (not comparable)

  1. In haste and chaos; 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.
    • 1913, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Poison Belt[2]:
      A group of the reapers whom we had seen running from the fields were lying all pell-mell, their bodies crossing each other, at the bottom of it.
    • 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”, in A Spiritual Journey Through Poetry with Marion Woods, published 2009, page 48:
      Some are already packed up well; / Others are at it, most pell mell.



pell-mell (uncountable)

  1. Alternative form of pall mall (ball game)

See also[edit]