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.
- mess about,
- mess around,
- mess call,
- mess gear,
- mess hall
Origin of mess
Examples from the Web for mess
Texas has always had a sense of place—that is why we are told not to mess with it.
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|Marlow Stern|December 23, 2014|DAILY BEAST
In fact, that candy store is heavy industry, with all the mess that entails.
“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|David Freedlander|December 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST
“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|Marlow Stern|December 4, 2014|DAILY BEAST
We had put our trust in these west winds; if they failed us we should be in a mess.The South Pole, Volumes 1 and 2|Roald Amundsen
The president of the mess, supposing him to be ill, sent to make inquiries.Domestic folk-lore|T. F. Thiselton-Dyer
Then we told him if he had joined our mess and let us sleep with him he would have had a share in the chicken pot.The Southern Soldier Boy|James Carson Elliott
He was in a regiment, and the mess would persist in calling him Jack, for short.The Sign of the Spider|Bertram Mitford
Tents, mess kits, some food and a few blankets were all that were left in the nearby camp.Grace Harlowe's Overland Riders Among the Kentucky Mountaineers|Jessie Graham Flower
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