Merriam Webster Word of the Day: Pell-mell

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is pell-mell. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Pell-mell means “in a confused and hurried way” or “in mingled confusion or disorder.”

// On Black Friday, some shoppers rush pell-mell into stores to find their favorite items at a discounted price.

PELL-MELL in Context

“But, before we head pell-mell down this road to ‘greening’ the nation’s transportation fleet, we have to ask the question, ‘What about car and truck safety?’ Isn’t this push toward electric vehicles also an opportunity to make our roads safer as well?” — The Journal Times (Racine, Wisconsin), 11 Sept. 2022

Did You Know?

The word pell-mell was probably formed through a process called reduplication. This process—which involves the repetition of a word or part of a word, with often a slight change in its form—also generated the terms flip-flopchitchat, and shilly-shally, the last of which comes from a single-word compression of the question “Shall I?” For pell-mell, the process is believed to have occurred long ago: our word traces to a Middle French word of the same meaning, pelemele, which comes from the Old French word pesle mesle, likely a product of reduplication from the Old French word mesle, a form of mesler, meaning “to mix” or “to mingle.”

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