Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Wikipedia.


A random, haphazard action or occurrence.

[Middle English chaunce medley, manslaughter, from Norman French chance medlee, mixed accident : Old French chance, accident; see chance + Old French medlee, mixed; see medley.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Law) law a sudden quarrel in which one party kills another; unintentional but not blameless killing
[C15: from Anglo-French chance medlee mixed chance]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


1. a homicide during a chance encounter.
2. aimless, random action.
[1485–95; < Anglo-French chance medlee]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.chance-medley - an unpremeditated killing of a human being in self defense
manslaughter - homicide without malice aforethought
law, jurisprudence - the collection of rules imposed by authority; "civilization presupposes respect for the law"; "the great problem for jurisprudence to allow freedom while enforcing order"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
The first of these is the court of inspection over the behaviour of the magistrates when they have quitted their office; the second is to punish those who have injured the public; the third is to take cognisance of those causes in which the state is a party; the fourth is to decide between magistrates and private persons, who appeal from a fine laid upon them; the fifth is to determine disputes which may arise concerning contracts of great value; the sixth is to judge between foreigners, and of murders, of which there are different species; and these may all be tried by the same judges or by different ones; for there are murders of malice prepense and of chance-medley; there is also justifiable homicide, where the fact is admitted, and the legality of it disputed.
While this was transacting upon the quarter-deck, a chance-medley fight was going on throughout the ship.
Beware of malice prepense, of chance-medley, and of manslaughter.