[mis-chuh-vuh s]


maliciously or playfully annoying.
causing annoyance, harm, or trouble.
roguishly or slyly teasing, as a glance.
harmful or injurious.

Origin of mischievous

1300–50; Middle English mischevous < Anglo-French meschevous. See mischief, -ous
Related formsmis·chie·vous·ly, adverbmis·chie·vous·ness, nounnon·mis·chie·vous, adjectivenon·mis·chie·vous·ly, adverbnon·mis·chie·vous·ness, nounun·mis·chie·vous, adjectiveun·mis·chie·vous·ly, adverb

Pronunciation note

The word mischievous has three syllables, mis-chie-vous, with the stress on the first syllable: [mis-chuh-vuh s] /ˈmɪs tʃə vəs/. There is a common tendency to shift the stress to the second syllable and say or write the word as if there were an extra letter i after the v, turning it into a four-syllable word: [mis-chee-vee-uh s] /mɪsˈtʃi vi əs/. These alterations of the pronunciation (and sometimes even the spelling) may occur in part because in many English words ie is pronounced like ee, as in chief, in part because many words end with [-ee-uh s] /-i əs/, spelled either -ious (as in devious ) or -eous (as in aqueous ), and in part because of confusion over where the second i in the word belongs. The Oxford English Dictionary reports that for some time in the evolution of the word—from about the sixteenth to the eighteenth century— mischievious was actually a fairly standard alternative spelling. Today, however, both the four-syllable spelling and the four-syllable pronunciation are generally regarded as nonstandard.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mischievous

Contemporary Examples of mischievous

Historical Examples of mischievous

  • "And that would be a great pity," said Quicksilver, with his mischievous smile.

    The Gorgon's Head

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Of all mortal possessions they are the most useless, mischievous, and baleful.


    William Godwin

  • Born shortly after Adam, and is still up to mischievous tricks.

  • The moon was a mischievous being, who walked about the earth doing all the evil he could.


    Benjamin Taylor

  • The intentions of the Duchess were known to be as virtuous and pure as those of her husband's party were criminal and mischievous.

    The Secret Memoirs of Louis XV./XVI, Complete

    Madame du Hausset, an "Unknown English Girl" and the Princess Lamballe

British Dictionary definitions for mischievous



inclined to acts of mischief
teasing; slightly maliciousa mischievous grin
causing or intended to cause harma mischievous plot
Derived Formsmischievously, adverbmischievousness, 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 mischievous

early 14c., "unfortunate, disastrous," probably from mischief + -ous. Sense of "playfully malicious or annoying" first recorded 1670s. Related: Mischievously; mischievousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper