may·hem (māhĕm′, māəm)
1. Law The criminal offense of willfully maiming, disabling, or disfiguring a person.
2. Infliction of violent injury on a person or thing; wanton destruction: children committing mayhem in the flower beds.
3. A state of violent disorder or riotous confusion; havoc.
[Middle English maim, mayhem, from Anglo-Norman maihem, from Old French mahaigne, injury, from mahaignier, to maim, from Vulgar Latin *mahanāre, probably of Germanic origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.