[ mes ]
/ mɛs /
a dirty, untidy, or disordered condition: The room was in a mess.
a person or thing that is dirty, untidy, or disordered.
a state of embarrassing confusion: My affairs are in a mess.
an unpleasant or difficult situation: She got into a mess driving without a license.
a dirty or untidy mass, litter, or jumble: a mess of papers.
a group regularly taking their meals together.
the meal so taken.
a quantity of food sufficient for a dish or a single occasion: to pick a mess of sweet corn for dinner.
a sloppy or unappetizing preparation of food.
a dish or quantity of soft or liquid food: to cook up a nice mess of pottage.
a person whose life or affairs are in a state of confusion, especially a person with a confused or disorganized moral or psychological outlook.
verb (used with object)
to make dirty or untidy (often followed by up): Don't mess the room.
to make a mess or muddle of (affairs, responsibilities, etc.) (often followed by up): They messed the deal.
to supply with meals, as military personnel.
to treat roughly; beat up (usually followed by up): The gang messed him up.
verb (used without object)
to eat in company, especially as a member of a mess.
to make a dirty or untidy mess.
- 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.
mess in/with, to intervene officiously; meddle: You'll get no thanks for messing in the affairs of others.
- 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
1250–1300; Middle English mes < Old French: a course at a meal < Late Latin missus what is sent (i.e., put on the table), noun use of past participle of Latin mittere to send
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for mess about (1 of 2)
(intr) to occupy oneself trivially; potter
(when intr, often foll by with) to interfere or meddle (with)
(intr sometimes foll by with) mainly US to engage in adultery
British Dictionary definitions for mess about (2 of 2)
/ (mɛs) /
a state of confusion or untidiness, esp if dirty or unpleasantthe house was in a mess
a chaotic or troublesome state of affairs; muddlehis life was a mess
informal a dirty or untidy person or thing
archaic a portion of food, esp soft or semiliquid food
a place where service personnel eat or take recreationan officers' mess
a group of people, usually servicemen, who eat together
the meal so taken
mess of pottage a material gain involving the sacrifice of a higher value
(tr often foll by up) to muddle or dirty
(intr) to make a mess
(intr often foll by with) to interfere; meddle
(intr; often foll by with or together) military to group together, esp for eating
Word Origin for mess
C13: from Old French mes dish of food, from Late Latin missus course (at table), from Latin mittere to send forth, set out
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
Idioms and Phrases with mess about
In addition to the idioms beginning with mess
- mess around
- mess up
- mess with
- get into trouble (a mess)
- make a hash (mess) of
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.