\ ˈme-sē How to pronounce messy (audio) \
messier; messiest

Definition of messy

1 : marked by confusion, disorder, or dirt : untidy a messy room
2 : lacking neatness or precision : careless, slovenly messy thinking
3 : extremely unpleasant or trying messy lawsuits a messy divorce

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Other Words from messy

messily \ ˈme-​sə-​lē How to pronounce messily (audio) \ adverb
messiness \ ˈme-​sē-​nəs How to pronounce messiness (audio) \ noun

Examples of messy in a Sentence

Painting a room can be messy work. Some kinds of glue are messier than others. a delicious but messy sandwich
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Recent Examples on the Web Even with that, the process is going to be messy and controversial because the NCAA is trying to dictate instead of negotiate. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: As college football plans are discussed, it's time for athletes to have a say," 19 May 2020 Yes, there was the messy and sometimes surreal rift that developed between the organization and the player after his departure in 2008, not to mention his decision to join the Vikings in 2009. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "50 in 50: Brett Favre delivers his magnum opus one day after the death of his father," 17 May 2020 Google's history with video chat goes hand-in-hand with its incredibly messy and unfocused history with instant messaging apps. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Google Meet, Google’s Zoom competitor, gets wider Gmail integration," 5 May 2020 Brexiteers mocked the overwhelming consensus among trade experts and economists who warned that the divorce from Europe would be far messier and more problematic than what its proponents described. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "The coronavirus outbreak is making expertise great again," 9 Mar. 2020 Morrison could present himself as the nation’s first responder in chief, a man of belated action, while avoiding the messy business of doing anything about the climate change that caused the fires. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, "Australia’s Infernal Denial," 7 Jan. 2020 Over the years, there have several attempts to straighten out this messy business. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "It Hurts to Sit on This Sloped Toilet for More Than 5 Minutes. That's the Point.," 19 Dec. 2019 Focusing on the eccentric group that developed and initially funded Biosphere 2, Wolf reframes the experiment as a modest success, proof of how much optimism can achieve, even if the results are messy or imperfect. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "Spaceship Earth and the Value of Utopian Thinking," 12 May 2020 Okay, so canceling the elections would be way too messy. Nicole Goodkind, Fortune, "If you’ve been a little busy lately, here’s what’s going on with the 2020 election," 15 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'messy.' 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 messy

1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for messy

Time Traveler

The first known use of messy was in 1627

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Statistics for messy

Last Updated

1 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Messy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for messy


How to pronounce messy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of messy

: not clean or tidy
: carelessly made or done : not careful or precise
: causing or involving a mess : likely to make something dirty or sticky


\ ˈme-sē How to pronounce messy (audio) \
messier; messiest

Kids Definition of messy

1 : not clean or tidy a messy room
2 : causing or making a mess a messy art project
3 : not careful or precise messy writing

Other Words from messy

messiness \ ˈme-​sē-​nəs \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on messy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for messy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with messy

Spanish Central: Translation of messy

Nglish: Translation of messy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of messy for Arabic Speakers

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