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adjective mis·chie·vous \ˈmis-chə-vəs, ˈmish-; ÷mis-ˈchē-vē-əs, mish-\

Simple Definition of mischievous

  • : causing or tending to cause annoyance or minor harm or damage

  • : showing a playful desire to cause trouble

  • : intended to harm someone or someone's reputation

Full Definition of mischievous

  1. 1 :  harmful, injurious <mischievous gossip>

  2. 2 a :  able or tending to cause annoyance, trouble, or minor injury b :  irresponsibly playful <mischievous behavior>

mis·chie·vous·ly adverb
mis·chie·vous·ness noun

Usage Discussion of mischievous

A pronunciation \mis-ˈchē-vē-əs\ and a consequent spelling mischievious are of long standing: evidence for the spelling goes back to the 16th century. Our pronunciation files contain modern attestations ranging from dialect speakers to Herbert Hoover. But both the pronunciation and the spelling are still considered nonstandard.

Examples of mischievous

  1. In passing the test of killing itself if infected, cancerous or genetically mischievous, a cell by definition dies. —Matt Ridley, Genome, 1999

  2. … Pedro Martinez, could be found in the dugout, usually wearing sneakers instead of spikes, his tongue flying about as fiercely as one of his mischievous fastballs. —Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, 11 Oct. 1999

  3. Setsu grew, too, from a mischievous, laughing little girl into a gay, willful, pretty girl. —Pearl S. Buck, The Big Wave, 1947

  4. <the children had been so mischievous that we had to pay the babysitter extra and then clean up the mess>

  5. <punished for their mischievous tricks on the neighbors>

Origin of mischievous

(see mischief)

First Known Use: 14th century

MISCHIEVOUS Defined for Kids


adjective mis·chie·vous \ˈmis-chə-vəs\

Definition of mischievous

  1. 1 :  causing or likely to cause minor injury or harm <a mischievous puppy>

  2. 2 :  showing a spirit of irresponsible fun or playfulness <The boy had a mischievous look on his face.>

  3. 3 :  harming or intended to do harm <mischievous gossip>

mis·chie·vous·ly adverb

Seen and Heard

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February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

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