frac·as (frăkəs, frākəs)
A noisy, disorderly fight or quarrel. See Synonyms at brawl.
[French, a sound of smashing, fracas, from French fracasser, to smash, from Italian fracassare, from Old Italian, perhaps from blend of Latin frangere, frāc-, to break; see FRACTURE + Latin quassāre, to shake, shatter, break; see SQUASH2.]
Usage Note: The traditional pronunciation of fracas has a long a in the first syllable, rhyming roughly with “break us.” In the 2015 survey, only 59 percent of the Usage Panel found this pronunciation acceptable, and barely a third of the Panel preferred it. The pronunciation with a short a in the first syllable, rhyming roughly with “track us,” is acceptable to 81 percent of the Panel and is in fact preferred by two-thirds of it, offering another example of how the pronunciation of a word can shift over time. · In British English, fracas is commonly pronounced frăkä and frə-kä (which is similar to the French pronunciation).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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