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[mis-chuh-vuh s] /ˈmɪs tʃə vəs/
maliciously or playfully annoying.
causing annoyance, harm, or trouble.
roguishly or slyly teasing, as a glance.
harmful or injurious.
Origin of mischievous
1300-50; Middle English mischevous < Anglo-French meschevous. See mischief, -ous
Related forms
mischievously, adverb
mischievousness, noun
nonmischievous, adjective
nonmischievously, adverb
nonmischievousness, noun
unmischievous, adjective
unmischievously, adverb
Pronunciation note
The word mischievous has three syllables, mis-chie-vous, with the stress on the first syllable:
[mis-chuh-vuh s] /ˈmɪs tʃə vəs/ (Show IPA).
There is a common tendency to shift the stress to the second syllable and say or write the word as if there were an extra letter i after the v, turning it into a four-syllable word:
[mis-chee-vee-uh s] /mɪsˈtʃi vi əs/ .
These alterations of the pronunciation (and sometimes even the spelling) may occur in part because in many English words ie is pronounced like ee, as in chief, in part because many words end with [-ee-uh s] /-i əs/ spelled either -ious (as in devious) or -eous (as in aqueous), and in part because of confusion over where the second i in the word belongs. The Oxford English Dictionary reports that for some time in the evolution of the word—from about the sixteenth to the eighteenth century— mischievious was actually a fairly standard alternative spelling. Today, however, both the four-syllable spelling and the four-syllable pronunciation are generally regarded as nonstandard. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for mischievousness
Contemporary Examples
  • To keep himself loose and pliable and imbued with the mischievousness that nourished him, Paul often resorted to practical jokes.

Historical Examples
  • He suspected that the chief emotions he inspired were curiosity and mischievousness.

  • But the mischievousness of Utilitarianism does not stop here.

  • Pranks they seem to us, but we may be sure there is some method in their mischievousness.

    Thunder and Lightning

    Camille Flammarion
  • Green parrots owe their unpopularity to their mischievousness and their noisiness.

    Birds of the Plains Douglas Dewar
  • Mischievously and mischievousness are also accented on the first syllable.

  • Or again, a mischievousness and mockery would steal into her mood.

    Memoirs of a Midget Walter de la Mare
  • If the subject is horrible, we have to blame the composition of human character, or the mischievousness of a human institution.

  • The red-headed boy was a mixture of good-heartedness and mischievousness that both delighted Nancy and horrified her.

    A Little Miss Nobody

    Amy Bell Marlowe
  • "She is incapable of it," exclaimed Madam Dowghiello; and they had to explain her niece's mischievousness.

    Abb Aubain and Mosaics Prosper Mrime
British Dictionary definitions for mischievousness


inclined to acts of mischief
teasing; slightly malicious: a mischievous grin
causing or intended to cause harm: a mischievous plot
Derived Forms
mischievously, adverb
mischievousness, 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 mischievousness



early 14c., "unfortunate, disastrous," probably from mischief + -ous. Sense of "playfully malicious or annoying" first recorded 1670s. Related: Mischievously; mischievousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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