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

: 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

:  harmful, injurious <mischievous gossip>
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.


  1. <the children had been so mischievous that we had to pay the babysitter extra and then clean up the mess>
  2. <punished for their mischievous tricks on the neighbors>
  3. In passing the test of killing itself if infected, cancerous or genetically mischievous, a cell by definition dies. —Matt Ridley, Genome, 1999


(see mischief)
First Known Use: 14th century


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