A skirmish is a small fight — more a dust-up than a full-out battle — and it can refer to a physical fight or just a battle of words. It is definitely confrontational, though.

Think of a skirmish as kind of a mini-battle, although a military skirmish can end with casualties. Still, although such an encounter can be serious, even the very word skirmish sounds slight, like a stirring of dust in the breeze. Shakespeare referred to the combative nature of his characters Beatrice and Benedick, in "Much Ado About Nothing," as "a kind of merry war betwixt Signior Benedick and her: they never meet but there's a skirmish of wit between them."

Definitions of skirmish
  1. noun
    a minor short-term fight
    synonyms: brush, clash, encounter
    see moresee less
    an awkward clash
    type of:
    combat, fight, fighting, scrap
    the act of fighting; any contest or struggle
  2. verb
    engage in a skirmish
    see moresee less
    type of:
    contend, fight, struggle
    be engaged in a fight; carry on a fight
Word Family

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