- A scene of uproar and disorder; a heated argument.
“We went home before the donnybrook started, but we heard the crowd got rowdy.”
“Between the five dogs, four toddlers, and extra houseguests for the weekend, our house is in a complete donnybrook.”
“The candidates broke out into a donnybrook during the debate, but the moderator quickly stopped it.”
North American English, mid-19th century
Why this word?
An etymon is the original word or thing from which another word is derived. The etymon of “donnybrook” is the Donnybrook Fair, which originated in its namesake Dublin suburb in the early 1200s. By the 1800s, it was such a display of drunken merrymaking that many tried to have it abolished. It managed to survive until 1855, but the spirit lives on in infamy thanks to this word. “Donnybrook” means “a scene of uproar and disorder.”
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