I'm looking for a word or a short phrase describing someone as particularly skilled or gifted, or very likely to hit one's opponent, in mêlée (single) combat.


  • It mustn't be specific to just one kind of weapon.
  • It mustn't be about pure physiological traits such as strength or speed.
  • It mustn't be extremely colloquial (i.e. "badass" won't do).

You could say I want the mêlée version of marksman — which you could use for throwing knives, shooting a bow, or firing a gun.

To put it as the "blank" a sentence:

You are quite the ________ - you took him down before he knew ow what hit him.

which should be the equivalent of

You are quite the marksman - you got him in one shot.

  • Is this intended for a digital game? "Badass" might capture the spirit, to say nothing of the user base's natural vocabulary... – Rob_Ster Dec 23 '17 at 4:12
  • You could look at old AD&D rules for the level names of various physically-oriented classes :o) [actually, that might be a serious suggestion]. – Will Crawford Dec 23 '17 at 6:10
  • @Rob_Ster: Maybe... :-) but, it would be a respectable game, so something less colloquial – einpoklum Dec 23 '17 at 9:27
  • 2
    @JanusBahsJacquet in gaming circles melee is often used (rightly or wrongly) to mean close combat or hand-to-hand fighting, whether a confused mass or single combat. – Chris H Dec 25 '17 at 23:30
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    @ChrisH I’ll readily admit I’ve never been a gamer, so I’ll take your word for it. A very peculiar usage, though, that’s quite likely to be confusing to outsiders who aren’t familiar with it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 25 '17 at 23:32

You could try ninja;

You are quite the ninja - you took him down before he knew ow what hit him.

  • @einpoklum as requested; I have posted it as an answer :) – 3kstc Dec 26 '17 at 12:33
  • It's the best I've gotten so far, if a bit colloquial. But if nothing better comes up I'm going to accept this. – einpoklum Dec 26 '17 at 20:41
  • I'll take yours. I guess there's no perfect answer here. – einpoklum Jan 8 '18 at 8:34

You can use the word "whammy", which means a serious blow, just like in the very popular phrase "double whammy". Some reference form MW: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whammy

  • 1. Isn't this very colloquial? 2. If I said "Cedric is a real whammy" - would you interpret that sentence as meaning he was skilled in close-quarter combat? – einpoklum Dec 26 '17 at 12:22

In Dungeons & Dragons lore, this was known as specialization. Fighter classes (barbarians, paladins, rangers, and fighters) could specialize in one weapon. It would increase the number of attacks per melee round as well as bonus attack points.

Here are some examples:

The Weapons Master could kill with a thorn, but what he specialized in was the curved blade.

"My specialty is to kill with my bare hands!"

His specialization is with the war hammer.

Seth was nondescript in his social life, humble even. However, there was another side of him - few knew his secret. He thrived in battle, and he specialized in hand-to-hand melee combat."

  • What you say is true, but it's just not an answer to my question. I can say "You're quite the marksman", You can't say "you're quite the specialization"... – einpoklum Dec 25 '17 at 23:32
  • No, but you could say specialist. – Stu W Dec 26 '17 at 0:32
  • Stu W: I didn't downvote you, actually, I just commented. In my opinion, non-answers should not be downvoted, only proper answers which aren't any good. – einpoklum Dec 26 '17 at 8:46
  • Hmm, specialist. But surely, not just specialist, right? Are you proposing "melee specialist"? If so, please edit accordingly. – einpoklum Dec 26 '17 at 8:47

Ideas so far:

  • Adroit - Not very combat-specific.
  • Deft - A bit vague.
  • Beater - Haven't seen that word used this way, but, who knows, maybe. It might imply using blunt weapons though.
  • Hard-hitter - Focuses on part of the skills in combat rather than the whole thing.
  • Mêleur - Someone who engages in Mêlée...
  • Wrangler - Literally, a "bickering disputant", but figuratively, perhaps a person who does when with their bickering

(if you upvote/downvote - please explain which of these you like or dislike and why.)


Close-fighter. The phrase close quarters combat was originally a nautical phrase where close referred to the closed spaces on a ship (e.g. bulkheads) where a last stand could be mounted against boarders. See close quarters.

  • "Close quarters" is a great phrase, "close-fighter" - sounds like you're a fighter, and you're closeby... – einpoklum Dec 28 '17 at 17:10

Could the word warrior fit the bill?



  1. (especially in former times) a brave or experienced soldier or fighter.
    as modifier ‘the warrior heroes of ancient Greece’

Alternatively, what about gladiator?



  1. (in ancient Rome) a man trained to fight with weapons against other men or wild animals in an arena.

Part of the reason I would throw this out here is because a warrior or a gladiator was classified as someone skilled in combat, before long range weapons were a thing (save for bow and arrow or slings). The immediate image of a warrior or gladiator is someone who fights in one-on-one combat, in an arena or coliseum. This is, of course, not an exact necessity, but it does certainly imply close-range combat, though gladiator certainly implies armed whereas warrior does not.

  • If only we could say "having the nature of a gladiator". Do you think "gladiatorial" sounds to weird? Warrior - I don't associate it immediately with what you would do in close-quarter combat. I mean, a bowman can be a kind of warrior, right? – einpoklum Dec 28 '17 at 20:16
  • "gladiatorial" certainly sounds weird but not "gladiator-like" – psosuna Dec 29 '17 at 8:39

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