"confused conflict among many persons," 1640s, from French mêlée, from Old French meslee "brawl, confused fight; mixture, blend" (12c.), noun use of fem. past participle of mesler "to mix, mingle" (see meddle). See also medley. Borrowed in Middle English as melle but it was lost and then reborrowed 17c.
updated on December 19, 2018