\ 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 messy (audio) \ adverb
messiness \ ˈme-​sē-​nəs How to pronounce messy (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 After missing 40 days and 20 games with a high right ankle sprain, James emerged to join his teammates — particularly recovering Anthony Davis and newcomer Andre Drummond — in a starry reunion that was understandably messy but splendidly meaningful. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, "Column: LeBron James is back, along with Lakers’ title hopes," 1 May 2021 Translating those results to humans is inevitably messy; researchers can’t tinker with the health of people in the same invasive ways. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, "Some People’s Bodies Aren’t Set Up for Vaccines," 15 Apr. 2021 Younger, who was Salk’s right-hand man, was astonished by how messy the labs were. Howard Markel, The New Yorker, "The Last Time a Vaccine Saved America," 12 Apr. 2021 In every industry, product design is messy by nature. Richard Banfield, Forbes, "Why We Can’t Anticipate Our Most Urgent Tech Problems," 7 Apr. 2021 On a recent afternoon, the house was still messy from the days of freezing cold and rotating power outages that meant only fleeting spurts of electricity. New York Times, "The ‘Old American Dream,’ a Trap as the Floods Keep Coming," 23 Mar. 2021 While traditional dye kits can stain clothing and be generally messy, this set is comprised of eight non-toxic markers, making for a much cleaner, simpler way to decorate your eggs without extensive after-cleanup. Christine Persaud, USA TODAY, "The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this Monday," 16 Mar. 2021 If the hand-crushing method is a bit too messy for you, put the tomatoes in a food processor and give it a few pulses. Darlene Zimmerman, Detroit Free Press, "Spaghetti meal that's loaded with disease-fighting lycopene is ready in 30 minutes," 14 Mar. 2021 Gunstone is also a multimedia artist who likes to get her hands messy and Robichaud understands the value of client care after an earlier career in social work and merchandising. oregonlive, "Preparing a house to sell: 5 style tips from Portland’s Crush Staging," 3 Mar. 2021

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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Statistics for messy

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Messy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for messy



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

More from Merriam-Webster on messy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for messy

Nglish: Translation of messy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of messy for Arabic Speakers

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