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[mes-ee-ey; French me-syey] /ˈmɛs iˌeɪ; French mɛˈsyeɪ/
[sharl] /ʃarl/ (Show IPA),
1730–1817, French astronomer.


[mes-ee] /ˈmɛs i/
adjective, messier, messiest.
characterized by a dirty, untidy, or disordered condition:
a messy room.
causing a mess:
a messy recipe; messy work.
embarrassing, difficult, or unpleasant:
a messy political situation.
characterized by moral or psychological confusion.
Origin of messy
First recorded in 1835-45; mess + -y1
Related forms
messiness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Messier
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Come to-night, at two o'clock, in your costume, to 22 rue Messier.

    Fantmas Pierre Souvestre
  • The northern entrance to Messier Channel is through this gulf.

  • It was discovered by Messier on the 8th of August, and continued to be observed till the 1st of December.

    Comets and Meteors Daniel Kirkwood
  • In the northern hemisphere one of the finest is that in the constellation Hercules, known as 13 Messier.

    Man's Place in the Universe Alfred R. Wallace
  • Six days after sunrise the craters are again nearly of the same size, owing to the diminution of Messier.

    Are the Planets Inhabited? E. Walter Maunder
  • Prof. Barnard finds that the great cluster in Hercules (Messier 13) is “composed of stars of different spectral types.”

    Astronomical Curiosities J. Ellard Gore
  • Number 22 rue Messier was a wretched one-storeyed house that belonged to a country vine-dresser who seldom came to Paris.

    Fantmas Pierre Souvestre
British Dictionary definitions for Messier


adjective messier, messiest
dirty, confused, or untidy
Derived Forms
messily, adverb
messiness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Messier

in reference to a catalogue of about 100 nebulae, star clusters and galaxies begun in 1758 by French astronomer and comet-hunter Charles Messier (1730-1817), who at the time was looking for an expected return of Halley's comet and deceived by fuzzy objects that looked like distant comets in his telescope but turned out to not be.

What caused me to undertake the catalog was the nebula I discovered above the southern horn of Taurus on September 12, 1758, whilst observing the comet of that year. This nebula had such a resemblance to a comet in its form and brightness that I endeavored to find others, so that astronomers would no more confuse these same nebulae with comets just beginning to appear. [Messier, 1800]
The first version of the catalogue was published 1771, and the fuller version in 1781.



1843, "untidy," from mess (n.) + -y (2). Figurative use ("unethical") by 1924. Related: Messily; messiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for Messier



  1. Confused; chaotic; fucked up
  2. Nasty; dirty: There'll be a lot of messy publicity about this (1940s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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