From Middle English mayme, mahaime, from Anglo-Norman mahaim (“mutilation”), from Old French mahaign (“bodily harm, loss of limb”), from Proto-Germanic *maidijaną (“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 *mey- (“to change”). More at mad. The original meaning referred to the crime of maiming, the other senses derived from this.
Meaning #1 may have arisen by popular misunderstanding of the common journalese expression "rioting and mayhem".
mayhem (usually uncountable, plural mayhems)
- 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
- Infliction of violent injury on a person or thing.
- The fighting dogs created mayhem in the flower beds.
- (law) The maiming of a person by depriving him of the use of any of his limbs which are necessary for defense or protection.
- (law) The crime of damaging things or harming people on purpose.
- Hungarian: felfordulás (hu)
- Italian: caos (it) m, confusione (it) f
- Maori: aneatanga, kaumingomingo, kūnakunaku
- Polish: chaos (pl) m, bezład (pl) m, bezrząd m
- Portuguese: caos (pt) m, confusão (pt) f, desordem (pt) f, tumulto (pt) m
- Russian: ха́ос (ru) m (xáos), хао́с (ru) m (xaós), беспоря́док (ru) m (besporjádok)
- Spanish: alboroto (es) m, tumulto (es)
infliction of violent injury
The maiming of a person by depriving him of the use of any of his limbs which are necessary for defense or protection
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.
Translations to be checked
- ^ Philip Babcock, ed., Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, s.v. "mayhem" (Springfield, Mass: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 1993.