Mayhem is a violent and rowdy disturbance, like what you might experience at an overcrowded rock concert or a day-after-Thanksgiving sale.

You may encounter several types of disturbances in your life, but mayhem is typically used for disturbances involving crowds. The word mayhem comes to us not from Latin, as many English words do, but from Anglo-French, a dialect of French that developed in England several centuries ago. We’re guessing those Anglo-French speakers had a reputation for being a pretty rowdy bunch.

Definitions of mayhem

n violent and needless disturbance

Type of:
the act of disturbing something or someone; setting something in motion

n the willful and unlawful crippling or mutilation of another person

Type of:
crime, criminal offence, criminal offense, law-breaking, offence, offense
(criminal law) an act punishable by law; usually considered an evil act

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.