Mayhem Definition

māhĕm, māəm
The crime of maiming a person, esp. in order to make the person incapable of self-defense.
Webster's New World
Infliction of violent injury on a person or thing; wanton destruction.
Children committing mayhem in the flower beds.
American Heritage
Destructive or violent disorder.
Webster's New World
Violent, disorderly behavior.
Webster's New World Law

A state or situation of great confusion, disorder, trouble or destruction; chaos.

What if the legendary hero Robin Hood had been born into the mayhem of the 20th century ?
In all the mayhem, some children were separated from their partners.
She waded into the mayhem, elbowing between taller men to work her way to the front of the crowd.
The clowns would dart into the crowd and pull another unsuspecting victim into the mayhem of the ring.

Other Word Forms of Mayhem



Origin of Mayhem

  • Middle English mayme, mahaime, from Anglo-Norman mahaim (“mutilation"), from Old French mahaign (“bodily harm, loss of limb"), from Germanic, from Proto-Germanic *maidijanÄ… (“to cripple, injure") (compare Middle High German meidem, meiden 'gelding', Old Norse meiða 'to injure', Gothic 𐌼𐌰𐌹𐌳𐌾𐌰𐌽 maidjan 'to alter, falsify'), from Proto-Indo-European *mei (“to change"). More at mad. The original meaning referred to the crime of maiming, the other senses derived from this.

    From Wiktionary

  • Middle English maim, mayhem from Anglo-Norman maihem from Old French mahaigne injury from mahaignier to maim from Vulgar Latin mahanāre probably of Germanic origin

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Meaning #1 may have arisen by popular misunderstanding of the common journalese expression "rioting and mayhem".

    From Wiktionary

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