messier; messiest
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
messily adverb
messiness noun

Example Sentences

Painting a room can be messy work. Some kinds of glue are messier than others. a delicious but messy sandwich
Recent Examples on the Web Think about medical records — those need to be super secure but historically have been messy and inefficient to transfer. Allison Morrow, CNN, 15 Nov. 2022 Their life will no doubt be messy and disorganized, but also a beautiful symphony of joyful spontaneity and dysfunction. Gregg Opelka, WSJ, 28 Oct. 2022 But this is a mess of its own making, a needless folderol that accomplished nothing beyond making the group seem messy and divided. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 25 Oct. 2022 Grab plenty of napkins though and maybe a spoon, because things can get messy in the best of ways. Chuck Blount, San Antonio Express-News, 11 Nov. 2022 Things can get messy when people aren’t forthcoming. Callum Borchers, WSJ, 10 Nov. 2022 But things get messy when a former survivor of the serial killer returns for revenge. Emy Lacroix, Peoplemag, 29 Sep. 2022 Phoebe is an outspoken podcast star navigating her messy but amazing life. Toby Grey, BGR, 16 Sep. 2022 Outside groups and experts warn the rollout of Biden’s student debt cancellation plan could get messy. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, 6 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of messy was in 1627

Dictionary Entries Near messy

Cite this Entry

“Messy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/messy. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

messier; messiest
1
: marked by confusion, disorder, or dirt : untidy
2
: extremely unpleasant or trying
messy lawsuits
messily adverb
messiness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on messy

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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