mess

1 of 2

noun

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
a
: a group of persons who regularly take their meals together
every officer with a unit … is obliged to belong to a messS. G. Maurice
also : a meal so taken
b
: a place where meals are regularly served to a group : mess hall
The soldiers marched to the mess for breakfast.
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 executionJudith Crist
4
: a large quantity or number
They're in a mess of trouble.

mess

2 of 2

verb

messed; messing; messes

transitive verb

1
: to provide with meals at a mess
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
3
: to interfere with
often used with up
magnetic storms that mess up communicationsTime
4
: to rough up : manhandle
often used with up
mess him up good so he won't cheat us again

intransitive verb

1
: to take meals with a mess
2
: to make a mess
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
4
: to become confused or make an error
usually used with up

Examples of mess in a Sentence

Noun He was a mess after gardening all day. My hair is a mess. Well, that's another fine mess you've gotten me into! How do we get ourselves into these messes? The school system is a mess. Things were a real mess for a while after she retired. My life is a complete mess. She was a real mess for a while after her divorce. He was a mess during his daughter's wedding ceremony. Verb please don't mess with me while I'm trying to concentrate
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Breaking out a clunky, oversized vacuum to clean a tiny mess requires too much elbow grease. Clara McMahon, Peoplemag, 17 July 2024 Untempered glass is apt to shatter if left in a hot oven and that is a mess no one wants to clean up. Darcy Lenz, Southern Living, 16 July 2024
Verb
This hands-free robot vacuum (a must for any smart home) cleans floors and so much more—Terri recommended it for pet owners, as its intelligent design is specifically formulated for the fun messes only your furry friends can create. Rachel Fletcher, Architectural Digest, 17 July 2024 Although the music and scripting is new, the character design does not mess much with what Disney fans know, although some who have already caught the attractions in previews have commented that the animatronic motion seems smoother in the update. Chris Willman, Variety, 10 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for mess 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mess.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of mess was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near mess

Cite this Entry

“Mess.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mess. Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

mess

1 of 2 noun
1
a
: a quantity of food
b
: a dish of soft food
a mess of porridge
2
a
: a group of people who regularly eat together
also : the meal they eat
b
: a place where meals are regularly served to a group : mess hall
3
: a state or condition of confusion, disorder, or unpleasantness
left things in a mess
also : one that is in such a state or condition
his life was a mess
4
: a large quantity or number
a mess of problems

mess

2 of 2 verb
1
a
: to supply with meals
b
: to take meals with a mess
2
a
: to make dirty or untidy : disarrange
don't mess up your room
b
: to do incorrectly
messed up the job
c
: to become confused or make an error
tried again and messed up again
3
: to interfere with
the storm messed up our plans
4
a
: to work without a serious goal : putter
likes to mess around with paints
b
: to handle or play with something especially carelessly
don't mess with the camera
c
: interfere sense 2, meddle
don't mess with me
5
: to rough up : manhandle

More from Merriam-Webster on mess

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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