- 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.
- mess hall.
- Naval. messroom.
- 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.
- 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.
- to eat in company, especially as a member of a mess.
- to make a dirty or untidy mess.
- mess around/about,
- 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.
- mess up,
- 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms for mess on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for messing
Lets rap about new feminism, hip-hop and infidelity," she begins, "You got a good girl / Why she messing with a bad guy?Elevator Music Beyoncé Doesn’t Want to Hear: Jay Z’s ‘Mistress’ Drops ‘Sorry Mrs. Carter’
August 8, 2014
[Laughs] I had one moment where I had to mix it up with a guy who was messing around with a friend of mine at the bar.Mark Ruffalo Blasts Iraq’s GOP Warmongers, Talks ‘Begin Again’ and ‘Avengers’
June 30, 2014
He believed that life could only be understood by messing about in it in high and low fashion.Poet and Rake, Lord Byron Was Also an Interventionist With Brains and Savvy
February 16, 2014
By discussing her mammary travails so openly, Jolie runs the risk of messing with the fantasy.Angelina’s Bold Boob Move
May 14, 2013
Together, we can make Washington take a break from messing w/ the Internet.Rep. Darrell Issa Turns to Reddit for Internet Moratorium Bill
November 28, 2012
Chips was there the whole afternoon on his knees, messing with putty and red-lead.Chance
Now, what did ye come on board here for, messing into my affairs?
But it was not according to Mayo's calculation, messing with steamboat men.
Fires are concealed as much as possible and the messing is done by reliefs.
Additional instructions may be given for messing, feeding, watering, etc.
- 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 and History for messing
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.
Idioms and Phrases with messing
In addition to the idioms beginning with mess
- mess around
- mess up
- mess with
- get into trouble (a mess)
- make a hash (mess) of