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

Synonyms for mess

Antonyms for mess

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


Examples from the Web for messing

Contemporary Examples of messing

Historical Examples of messing

  • Chips was there the whole afternoon on his knees, messing with putty and red-lead.

    Chance

    Joseph Conrad

  • 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.


British Dictionary definitions for messing

mess

noun

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

verb

(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 messing

mess

n.

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.

mess

v.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with messing

mess

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.