\ 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

The jokes here are by turns earnest and cynical, and there is insight buzzing in the messy mergers of the two: To be alive right now is often to feel tangled and disoriented. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Aziz Ansari and the Physics of Moving Forward," 11 July 2019 Is this just the messy forward march of democracy, or evidence of a malign techno-oligarchy? Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Very Big, Very Important White House Social-Media Summit," 11 July 2019 In the edgy black and white, film-noir style video, Cabello sports shoulder-length, platinum blonde hair with messy bangs. Morgan M. Evans,, "Camila Cabello Debuts Sexy Blonde Locks in New Music Video with Mark Ronson," 10 July 2019 The examples became more extreme: How about a messy domestic incident? Tad Vezner, Twin Cities, "Old debate on homeowner privacy dominates talk on Ramsey County’s body cameras," 10 July 2019 Sullivan said the goose overpopulation has inundated the city, leaving messy droppings, over-grazing plants, damaging the habitat and polluting the water. Baltimore Sun,, "Maryland officials kill almost 400 geese as population booms," 8 July 2019 Celebrating this poolside this summer is making the choice to live your best life (or to skip the beach with all its messy sand). Courtney E. Smith,, "Splish Splash, Here Are All The Songs You Need To Soundtrack Your Pool Party," 5 July 2019 Crime-fiction fans around the world are familiar with Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s detective Harry Hole—that tall, messy-haired, alcoholic cop who smokes Camels and has more than enough self-confidence to match his reputation as an investigator. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: The One Who Didn’t Get Away," 5 July 2019 French people are messy (bordélique), unorganized, and bureaucratic. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Meaning of Citizenship: 9 People on How They Found Home," 5 July 2019

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

14 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for messy

The first known use of messy was in 1627

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on messy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with messy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for messy

Spanish Central: Translation of messy

Nglish: Translation of messy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of messy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on messy

What made you want to look up messy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to form ideas or theories about something

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