Melee (from French mêlée) may refer to any disorganized or unorganized close combat between more than two combatants, whether occurring in the context of tournament games or actual warfare. A melee may occur between two or more organized groups of combatants if the groups break formation and abandon organized group tactics.
The melee was one of the earliest tournament games, closely resembling the melees that would naturally occur in battle. This involved a disorganized "free-for-all" among the assembled combatants, either mounted or on foot, often using a variety of weapons. Jousting, or mounted single combat, was a later development of the tournament, but throughout much of the Middle Ages these were contemporaneous tournament activities.
In modern role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, the term "melee" is often used to refer to any close combat among characters, with respect to the relative speed of hand-to-hand combat rather than the lack of group tactics.