\ 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

But what comes before that scene is more messy and complicated than even McKay realizes. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Vice doesn’t want to humanize Dick Cheney. So instead, it (maybe) demonizes America.," 21 Dec. 2018 Out of rhythm method Of course, these are the ideal conditions; the reality is much messier, and, all in all, BBT is not a reliable proxy for ovulation. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "“Natural” birth-control app dogged by unwanted pregnancies gets FDA approval," 15 Aug. 2018 Frances McDormand appears makeup-free and with gloriously messy gray hair on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, but is back to highlights at the Golden Globes months later, and back to gray again in New York magazine a few months after that. Jessica Berger Gross, Longreads, "Gone Gray," 10 July 2018 But here’s a huge caveat: Doing that can get very messy, very fast. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, Condé Nast Traveler, "The No-Risk, No-Hassle Strategy to Always Get the Best Price on a Cruise," 15 June 2018 The doorframe switched, and Jackie noticed a crop of messy blond hair around a younger version of Chloe’s face peeking around the door. Chicago Tribune,, "Algren Award finalist: "Olivia" by Sophia Veltfort," 2 June 2018 And with two serious shoulder injuries, each followed by surgery, Gilbert has largely been out of the picture, unable to help fix a messy situation. Mike Anthony,, "Mike Anthony: Alterique Gilbert Recovering, Discovering After Two Lost Seasons," 21 May 2018 Potty training can get messy, even for pop star parents! Stephanie Petit,, "Justin Timberlake's Son Silas Gave Him a 'Wet' Hug: I've 'Never Been More Excited to Be Peed On'," 1 May 2018 The nachos are individually topped rather than served in a messy pile, but that's about as fancy as things get (and the toppings are classics like cheese, black beans, pickled jalapeño, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream). Julia Thiel, Chicago Reader, "Food & Drink / Food Chain The Moonlighter fills Logan Square's burger and sports bar gap—and it's surprisingly pleasant," 22 Feb. 2018

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

24 Mar 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 boil down or concentrate

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