verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- Informal.to busy oneself without purpose or plan; work aimlessly or halfheartedly; putter.
- Informal.to waste time; loaf.
- Informal.to meddle or interfere.
- Informal.to involve or associate oneself, especially for immoral or unethical purposes: His wife accused him of messing around with gamblers.
- Slang.to trifle sexually; philander.
- to make dirty, untidy, or disordered.
- to make muddled, confused, etc.; make a mess of; spoil; botch.
- to perform poorly; bungle: She messed up on the final exam.
Origin of mess
Synonyms for mess
Antonyms for mess
Related Words for messturmoil, wreck, confusion, disarray, chaos, mayhem, debris, clutter, shambles, jumble, wreckage, plight, dilemma, imbroglio, muddle, dirtiness, salmagundi, hash, combination, fright
Examples from the Web for mess
Contemporary Examples of mess
Texas has always had a sense of place—that is why we are told not to mess with it.Will Texas Stay Texan?
December 29, 2014
It was being the riskiest studio in Hollywood that got Sony into this mess in the first place.Sony: Hollywood’s Most Subversive Studio Under Attack
December 23, 2014
In fact, that candy store is heavy industry, with all the mess that entails.New York’s Conservative Fracking Ban
December 20, 2014
“The idea was to mess with the concept of Christmas,” recalled John Law, an original Cacophony member.Before the Bros, SantaCon Was as an Anti-Corporate Protest
December 12, 2014
“Every time you see me, you want to mess with me,” Garner exclaimed, short of breath.Before Eric Garner, There Was Michael Stewart: The Tragic Story of the Real-Life Radio Raheem
December 4, 2014
Historical Examples of mess
Never would I have believed that I could make such a mess of it.The Bacillus of Beauty
Put the desks straight first; what a mess you get them into.The Channings
Mrs. Henry Wood
I then came into a district of mess halls where a meal was being served.City of Endless Night
It's the only safe way that I can see out of this mess of a harbor we've got.The Harbor
ESAU, an ancient who sold his birthright for a mess of breakfast food.Who Was Who: 5000 B. C. to Date
Word Origin for mess
c.1300, "food for one meal, pottage," from Old French mes "portion of food, course at dinner," from Late Latin missus "course at dinner," literally "a placing, a putting (on a table, etc.)," from past participle of mittere "to put, place," in classical Latin "to send, let go" (see mission).
Meaning "communal eating place" (especially a military one) is first attested 1530s, from earlier sense of "company of persons eating together" (early 15c.), originally a group of four. Sense of "mixed food," especially for animals, (1738) led to contemptuous use for "jumble, mixed mass" (1828) and figurative sense of "state of confusion" (1834), as well as "condition of untidiness" (1851). General use for "a quantity" of anything is attested by 1830. Meaning "excrement" (of animals) is from 1903.
late 14c., "serve up in portions," from mess (n.). Meaning "take one's meals" is from 1701; that of "make a mess" is from 1853. Related: Messed; messing. To mess with "interfere, get involved" is from 1903; mess up "make a mistake, get in trouble" is from 1933 (earlier" make a mess of," 1909), both originally American English colloquial.
In addition to the idioms beginning with mess
- mess around
- mess up
- mess with
- get into trouble (a mess)
- make a hash (mess) of