mess

noun
\ ˈmes How to pronounce mess (audio) \

Definition of mess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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
2a : a group of persons who regularly take their meals together every officer with a unit … is obliged to belong to a mess— S. 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.
3a : 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 : a large quantity or number They're in a mess of trouble.

mess

verb
messed; messing; messes

Definition of mess (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to provide with meals at a mess
2a : 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
3a : 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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Show or tell us on @tiktok using #TheBacheloretteChallenge! #TheBachelorette A post shared by The Bachelorette (@bacheloretteabc) on May 13, 2019 at 4:24pm PDT And poor Chris Harrison had to clean up after the mess, hilariously. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "What Is a Box King? Unraveling 'Bachelorette' Contestant Joe Barsano's Actual Job," 14 May 2019 Go to sleep with a perfect head of curls and wake up with a flattened mess. Glamour, "How to Keep Curls Overnight Without Losing Their Shape," 14 May 2019 My undereye skin is probably just exceptionally thin, allowing blood vessels to shine through, and the blueness is in turn exacerbated by my bone structure, which shrouds the whole mess in shadows. Alice Gregory, Allure, "I Got Fillers for My Chronic Undereye Circles, and the Results Were Impressive," 28 Apr. 2019 Place on top of a large saucer to keep your table mess-free when watering. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "This Super-Easy 'Living Arrangement' Takes Container Gardening to the Next Level," 26 Apr. 2019 The wrap-around moat catches the overfill, but my mess was too much for it. Maude Campbell, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Waffle Maker for Tiny Kitchen Counters," 13 Nov. 2018 Wallace was an emotional mess in his post-race press conference, particularly after his mother showed up and embraced him in a long hug. Mike Hembree, USA TODAY, "NASCAR's Bubba Wallace seeking reprise of stellar Daytona run," 6 July 2018 Arnold Adams, a 32-year-old MMA heavyweight, pounded ex-UFC fighter D.J. Linderman's face into a bloody mess in front of 2,000 rowdy fans at a hockey rink that usually hosts birthday parties and skating lessons in Wyoming's capital. Bloomberg.com, "Legal Bare-knuckle Fighting Makes Bloody Debut in Wyoming," 3 June 2018 Marks has cleaned up Brooklyn’s salary-cap mess and can chase a max free agent this summer. Dan Gelston, The Seattle Times, "Bad knee makes Embiid doubtful for 76ers in Game 1 vs. Nets," 12 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Last week, though, players reported that trolls were briefly able to mess with the single-player portion of Grand Theft Auto V through an exploit targeting players' Rockstar Social Club accounts. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Grand Theft Auto V hack exposed single-player games to malicious trolls," 22 Oct. 2018 And, finally, your own home Don't want to mess with parking? Mallorie Sullivan, Cincinnati.com, "Boom: Here are 8 of the best places to watch fireworks in Greater Cincinnati," 30 June 2018 HiBoy scores extra points for serving ketchup from a pump, because who wants to mess with packets? Sarah Gish, kansascity, "Batter up: Here are 18 KC-area places to get perfect, golden-fried onion rings," 21 June 2018 However, certain genetic mutations can mess up this tidy arrangement in a number of different ways. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Spanish scientists: EnChroma glasses won’t fix your color blindness," 6 Nov. 2018 TVs, tablets, and phones specifically mess with your sense of sleepiness. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The Right Way to Clean Your Bedroom So You Can Sleep Better Than Ever," 14 Mar. 2019 Calderon often messes with the heads of his audiences, blurring lines of theater and reality. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, "Calderon's 'Kiss' Full Of Seismic Psychological Surprises At Yale Rep," 4 May 2018 Doing that took messing with some seriously dodgy Chrome extensions. Jon Porter, The Verge, "Despite its flaws, Facebook still holds my memories, and giving that up is hard," 17 Nov. 2018 However, this malady extends beyond the workplace, messing with homemakers, students and even retirees. Philip Chard, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Burnout reflects a conflict between our inner calling and what we have to do," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mess.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of mess

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

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

History and Etymology for mess

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

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Statistics for mess

Last Updated

19 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mess

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

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More Definitions for mess

mess

noun

English Language Learners 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

mess

noun
\ ˈmes How to pronounce mess (audio) \

Kids Definition of mess

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a dirty or untidy state They left things in a mess.
2 : something in a dirty or untidy state Your hair is a mess.
3 : a difficult situation How do you get into these messes?
4 : a group of people (as military personnel) who regularly eat together
5 : a place (as in the military) where meals are served

mess

verb
messed; messing

Kids Definition of mess (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make dirty or untidy They messed the place up.
2 : to make mistakes in or mix up She messed up the speech.
3 : to become confused or make an error I messed up the first time.
4 : to use or do in an aimless way I messed around on the computer all afternoon.
5 : to handle in a careless way Stop messing with my camera.
6 : to deal with in a way that may cause anger or trouble Don't mess with them.

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More from Merriam-Webster on mess

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mess

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mess

Spanish Central: Translation of mess

Nglish: Translation of mess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mess for Arabic Speakers

Comments on mess

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