Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A minor battle in war, as one between small forces or between large forces avoiding direct conflict.
  • n. A minor or preliminary conflict or dispute: a skirmish over the rules before the debate began.
  • intransitive v. To engage in a minor battle or dispute.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A brief battle between small groups, usually part of a longer or larger battle or war.
  • n. By extension, any minor dispute.
  • n. A type of outdoor military style game using paintball or similar weapons.
  • v. To engage in a minor battle or dispute

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To fight slightly or in small parties; to engage in a skirmish or skirmishes; to act as skirmishers.
  • n. A slight fight in war; a light or desultory combat between detachments from armies, or between detached and small bodies of troops.
  • n. A slight contest.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An irregular fight, especially between small parties; an engagement, in the presence of two armies, between small detachments advanced for the purpose either of drawing on a battle or of concealing by their fire the movements of the troops in the rear.
  • n. Defense.
  • n. Any contention or contest; a preliminary trial of strength, etc.
  • n. Synonyms Rencounter, Brush, etc. See encounter.
  • To fight irregularly, as in a skirmish; fight in small parties or along a skirmishline.
  • To defend one's self; strike out in defense or attack.
  • To be in a position of guarded and cautious attack; fence.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a minor short-term fight
  • v. engage in a skirmish

Etymologies

Middle English skirmisshe, alteration (influenced by Middle English skirmisshen, to brandish a weapon) of skarmush, from Old French eskarmouch, from Old Italian scaramuccia, of Germanic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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