Nearby words

  1. mesovarium,
  2. mesozoa,
  3. mesozoan,
  4. mesozoic,
  5. mesquite,
  6. mess about,
  7. mess around,
  8. mess call,
  9. mess gear,
  10. mess hall

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

1. tidiness. 3. order. 15. arrange. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for mess about

mess about

mess around

verb (adverb)

(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


/ (mɛs) /



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

Word Origin and History for mess about
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with mess about


In addition to the idioms beginning with mess

  • mess around
  • mess up
  • mess with

also see:

  • 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.