A melee is a medieval term for disorganized group combat. Frequently a melee would occur if the combatants on one side were not a rigorously trained army, but rather were a militia, a mob of local peasants, or a ragtag group of mercenaries. The term was generalized to mean any closed combat, as opposed to firefight from distance. For example, melee was an important part of battles in the Napoleonic age, mostly fought by highly skilled and organized troops.
The term comes from the French word mélée, the feminine benefactive form of the verb méler (alternately medeler). This verb means to mix and is related to the English words medley and mettle.
In many role-playing games melee refers to combat that is conducted at close quarters, usually with a physical weapon such as a sword or battle axe. This is most commonly seen contrast to ranged weapons, such as bows, or the use of magic.
Melee may also refer to the Gamecube game Super Smash Bros Melee.