hot mess

noun

Definition of hot mess

  1. 1 informal :  something or someone that is emphatically a mess: such as a :  something in a state of extreme disorder or disarray … I'd started recording with studio musicians and it sounded terrible, like I was just trying to re-create these old ballads. It was a hot mess. I realized that if I kept working on my own, I was going to come up with some cornball record that I'd never buy. — Scarlett Johansson, quoted in Spin, May 2008 b :  a disorganized, disheveled, or self-destructive person She's a hard-drinking hot mess who scavenges the streets for castoff furniture and clothing that she spruces up and sometimes sells; how she survives in contemporary Los Angeles is one of the movie's biggest mysteries. — Sheri Lindenn, Los Angeles Times, 7 Nov. 2014; also :  such a person who is at the same time attractive or sexy … Everett actually is a hot mess when she performs. Her stage presence is erotic and chaotic, her big blond body wrapped in something low-cut and sheer. She'll spit a drink at an audience, rub her tits in someone's face, and/or pour wax on her chest … — Molly Adams, Chicago Reader, 4 Sept. 2014

  2. 2 archaic a :  a hot dish especially of soft or pulpy food … there was a stove over which our guides made a hot mess of flour and water which passed for soup. — Edwin Swift Balch, Appalachia, 1898 b :  a hot mixture of ingredients cooked or eaten together A.G. Gilbert's plan is to “Throw all waste of the kitchen, in the shape of meat scraps, pieces of bread, uneaten vegetables, etc., into a pot; heat up in the morning, till nearly boiling, and then mix bran, shorts, or whatever is most abundant or cheap, with the hot mess, dusting in a small quantity of red pepper before mixing. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes, until the meal is nearly cooked.” — Franklane L. Sewell and Ida E. Tilson, The Poultry Herald Manual: A Guide to Successful Poultry Keeping, 1898

Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Join MWU now and get access to America’s largest dictionary, with:

  • 300,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Circa 1772

First Known Use of hot mess

circa 1772


Seen and Heard

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to criticize severely

Get Word of the Day daily email!