[mes-ee-ey; French me-syey]


Charles [sharl] /ʃarl/, 1730–1817, French astronomer.



adjective, mess·i·er, mess·i·est.

characterized by a dirty, untidy, or disordered condition: a messy room.
causing a mess: a messy recipe; messy work.
embarrassing, difficult, or unpleasant: a messy political situation.
characterized by moral or psychological confusion.

Origin of messy

First recorded in 1835–45; mess + -y1
Related formsmess·i·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for messier

Contemporary Examples of messier

  • Recognizing that Messier was simply a corporate charlatan, Bronfman stepped up and led the charge to remove the megalomaniac.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Music's Misunderstood Genius

    Peter Lauria

    July 4, 2010

  • Messier is currently on trial in Paris on charges of misleading investors.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Music's Misunderstood Genius

    Peter Lauria

    July 4, 2010

  • In recent days, we have seen the future of diplomatic machinations with Iran, and it is messier and more alarming than before.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why Our Nuke Policy Doesn't Work

    Leslie H. Gelb

    May 20, 2010

Historical Examples of messier

British Dictionary definitions for messier


adjective messier or messiest

dirty, confused, or untidy
Derived Formsmessily, adverbmessiness, noun
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 messier


in reference to a catalogue of about 100 nebulae, star clusters and galaxies begun in 1758 by French astronomer and comet-hunter Charles Messier (1730-1817), who at the time was looking for an expected return of Halley's comet and deceived by fuzzy objects that looked like distant comets in his telescope but turned out to not be.

What caused me to undertake the catalog was the nebula I discovered above the southern horn of Taurus on September 12, 1758, whilst observing the comet of that year. This nebula had such a resemblance to a comet in its form and brightness that I endeavored to find others, so that astronomers would no more confuse these same nebulae with comets just beginning to appear. [Messier, 1800]

The first version of the catalogue was published 1771, and the fuller version in 1781.



1843, "untidy," from mess (n.) + -y (2). Figurative use ("unethical") by 1924. Related: Messily; messiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper