Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary
1

mess

play
noun \ˈmes\

Simple Definition of mess

  • : a very dirty or untidy state or condition

  • : something or someone that looks very dirty or untidy

  • : a situation that is very complicated or difficult to deal with

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of mess

  1. 1 :  a quantity of food: a archaic :  food set on a table at one time b :  a prepared dish of soft food; also :  a mixture of ingredients cooked or eaten together c :  enough food of a specified kind for a dish or a meal <picked a mess of peas for dinner>

  2. 2 a :  a group of persons who regularly take their meals together; also :  a meal so taken b :  a place where meals are regularly served to a group :  mess hall

  3. 3 a :  a disordered, untidy, offensive, or unpleasant state or condition <your room is in a mess> b :  one that is disordered, untidy, offensive, or unpleasant usually because of blundering, laxity, or misconduct <[the movie] is a mess, as sloppy in concept as it is in execution — Judith Crist>

  4. 4 :  a large quantity or number

Examples of mess in a sentence

  1. He was a mess after gardening all day.

  2. My hair is a mess.

  3. Well, that's another fine mess you've gotten me into!

  4. How do we get ourselves into these messes?

  5. The school system is a mess.

  6. Things were a real mess for a while after she retired.

  7. My life is a complete mess.

  8. She was a real mess for a while after her divorce.

  9. He was a mess during his daughter's wedding ceremony.



Origin and Etymology of mess

Middle English mes, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin missus course at a meal, from missus, past participle of mittere to put, from Latin, to send — more at smite


First Known Use: 14th century


2

mess

verb

Definition of mess

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to provide with meals at a mess

  3. 2 a :  to make dirty or untidy :  disarrange —often used with up <don't mess up your room> b :  to mix up :  bungle —often used with up <really messed up my life>

  4. 3 :  to interfere with —often used with up <magnetic storms that mess up communications — Time>

  5. 4 :  to rough up :  manhandle —often used with up <mess him up good so he won't cheat us again>

  6. intransitive verb
  7. 1 :  to take meals with a mess

  8. 2 :  to make a mess

  9. 3 a :  putter, trifle <children like to mess around with paints> b :  to handle or play with something especially carelessly <don't mess with my camera> —often used with around c :  to take an active interest in something or someone <messing around with new video techniques>; also :  interfere, meddle <messing in other people's affairs> <you'd better not mess with me>

  10. 4 :  to become confused or make an error —usually used with up



Examples of mess in a sentence

  1. <please don't mess with me while I'm trying to concentrate>



14th Century

First Known Use of mess

14th century



MESS Defined for Kids

1

mess

play
noun \ˈmes\

Definition of mess for Students

  1. 1 :  a dirty or untidy state <They left things in a mess.>

  2. 2 :  something in a dirty or untidy state <Your hair is a mess.>

  3. 3 :  a difficult situation <How do you get into these messes?>

  4. 4 :  a group of people (as military personnel) who regularly eat together

  5. 5 :  a place (as in the military) where meals are served




2

mess

play
verb

Definition of mess for Students

messed

messing

  1. 1 :  to make dirty or untidy <They messed the place up.>

  2. 2 :  to make mistakes in or mix up <She messed up the speech.>

  3. 3 :  to become confused or make an error <I messed up the first time.>

  4. 4 :  to use or do in an aimless way <I messed around on the computer all afternoon.>

  5. 5 :  to handle in a careless way <Stop messing with my camera.>

  6. 6 :  to deal with in a way that may cause anger or trouble <Don't mess with them.>





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up mess? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

different from the usual or normal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alphabet-pasta-spelling-help

Which is the correct spelling?

acommadate acommodate accommodate accomodate
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ