\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

While New York’s unseasonably wet and windy May weather would normally call for a 10-second top knot and frizz-fighting cap, leave it to Jessica Alba to give our messy buns a run for their money. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Jessica Alba Has the Ultimate Rainy Day Hair Solution," 13 May 2019 This is nowhere near as messy as Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, and that relationship got salvaged. K.c. Johnson,, "Bulls Q&A: What position will they address in the draft? How will Zach LaVine's contract talks go?," 17 Apr. 2018 Step 2 - Prep the Room Scraping popcorn off a ceiling can be rather messy, so start by emptying the room of all furniture, rugs, and lamps. Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Remove a Popcorn Ceiling," 25 Jan. 2019 This isn’t a great environment for plants to flourish, and my apartment is often so messy that caring for them seems pointless. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, "I Can't Stop Buying Plants Even Though They Always Die," 9 Jan. 2019 Still, the fact that the hardware on the iPad Pro makes the concept of a plug-and-play swap for a laptop possible is a big step forward for what Apple wants the iPad to be — even if the reality of USB-C is a bit messier than that. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Adding USB-C to the iPad isn’t enough to fix Apple’s messy port strategy," 31 Oct. 2018 If love is sometimes messy, breaking up is a full-on catastrophe. Henry Youtt, Billboard, "8 Lyrics from Years & Years' 'Palo Santo' to Get Over Your Exes," 6 July 2018 Didn’t happen, maybe because Italian food is too messy to throw. Scott Ostler,, "Going back decades, ballpark vendors share tales from the aisles," 4 July 2018 The long-pole situation is considerably messier with Cost, Hill, Benziger, fourth defenseman Michael Koropsak (19 GB, 11 CT) and long-stick midfielder Logan Winn (18 GB, 16 CT) gone. Edward Lee,, "Review & preview: Goucher men’s lacrosse," 20 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of messy

1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about messy

Statistics for messy

Last Updated

19 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for messy

The first known use of messy was in 1627

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


using a distributed computer network

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!