The word donnybrook is a bit of an old-fashioned word, but is still occasionally used, especially in North America, New Zealand and Australia. We will look at the definition of the term donnybrook, its interesting origin and finally, some examples of its use in sentences.

A donnybrook is an occasion that is a bit of an uproar, a chaotic brawl or a heated disagreement. The word donnybrook is derived from a public fair that was held in Donnybrook, Ireland beginning in the 1200s. By the 1800s, the Donnybrook Fair had a reputation of being a drunken, wild event that was finally ended in the mid-1800s. Every type of entertainment was available, as well as copious food and especially drink. At that time, the simile like Donnybrook Fair entered the English language to mean a wild, uproarious brawl. Eventually, the term was shortened to simply donnybrook. Note that the word has become so disengaged from its roots that it is no longer capitalized. Today, Donnybrook is an affluent suburb of Dublin and no longer is associated with its wilder history.


Quite the contrary: In the opening pages, a guy kisses the wrong girl at the screening of the latest Mary Pickford movie at the Capitol Theater, setting off a donnybrook that spills over into the street and brings out the riot police. (The Wilmington Star News)

The highly contentious and spirited debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard turned into an old-fashioned donnybrook with each candidate going after the other aggressively as they jockeyed for positioning just days before the state’s April 19 primary. (The New York Daily News)

Instead of talking about Hillary’s plan to create jobs in Youngstown, they were talking about Donald’s latest donnybrook. (The Washington Post)

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