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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, William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Fourth, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [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 0362-4331:
      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, 2009, A Spiritual Journey Through Poetry with Marion Woods, 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]