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 messy

Contemporary Examples of messy

Historical Examples of messy

  • It's much better you didn't recognise us; these boiler explosions are so messy.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Thousands of other planets will gain the settlers that Messy Row loses.

    Mezzerow Loves Company

    Floyd L. Wallace

  • That was messy; but we wanted to be hospitable, so we didn't say anything.

  • Sorry to sacrifice you, honey, but the other way is just too messy.

    The Deadly Daughters

    Winston K. Marks

  • And if he's at all messy about it, I give you leave to roll him downstairs.

British Dictionary definitions for messy


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 messy

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper