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On this Wednesday's Survivor, Jeff Probst called one of the challenges as a "four way duel."

Now, obviously, this is wrong because a duel is between two opponents, but is there a term referring to a fight between four opponents?

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    Uno, duo, tre, quattro. Could it be a quarrel? Or a quattrel? May 7, 2011 at 2:59
  • If 'quad-bike' is acceptable, 'four-way duel' shouldn't be too problematic. Feb 3 at 16:41

6 Answers 6

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It would probably be best to say "a four-way contest".

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To quote wikipedia:

Battle royal (plural battles royal) traditionally refers to a fight involving three or more combatants that is fought until only one fighter remains standing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Royal

"Battle Royale" is a Japanese novel that has had many adaptations.

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    Well, you may not actually have answered the question, but that's certainly an interesting path you've taken me half-way down. If we allow that imperial is higher up the pecking order than royal, perhaps we could coin the neologism Battle imperial. May 6, 2011 at 23:44
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Why, it's a squirmish of course!

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  • You should really post the proper word as well: "Scaramouche". No, that doesn't sound right. (it's "Skirmish")
    – Phoenix
    May 6, 2011 at 13:49
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    Etymologically, I think I'd further transmogrify that to "squarmish". Then "squintmish" for five, "shexmish" for six...
    – PSU
    May 6, 2011 at 13:51
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If Mr. Probst was familiar with Old Latin, he would not be wrong! Duellum is the old form of bellum meaning 'war' and was only later in the Medieval period found in poetry and reinterpreted as being related to duo and was concluded to mean 'a battle of two.' (See Wiktionary)

It does seem the word is wandering back to just meaning 'fight, showdown' regardless of the number of opponents... Language changes or how my historical linguistics professor put it: "Shift happens."

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    – Community Bot
    Feb 2 at 19:36
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    This is good. I'll share this from the Oxford English Dictionary: "The Latin form duellum is well attested in ancient inscriptions and retained in classical Latin literature in archaic language and in poetry; in post-classical Latin it is also used specifically to denote a fight between two combatants (11th cent.; frequently from 12th cent. in British sources). This specific use was probably influenced by duo two (see duo n.)." Then the OED quotes 7th century writer Isidore, who guessed duellum was related to duo. Feb 3 at 13:26
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In French and Italian they say quadrangular but that did not catch up in English I believe.

Although you have a number of hits for quadrangular fight, a possible reference to wrestling or other "ring" combat sports.

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Or a "four-way battle". Or simply just "battle" would do..

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