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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for mess with



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

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

Idioms and Phrases with mess with

mess with

Interfere or associate with; also, annoy, bother. For example, Our group won't mess with those street musicians, or I told him not to mess with me or there would be trouble. [Colloquial; c. 1900]


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.