mis·​chief | \ ˈmis-chəf, ˈmish-\

Definition of mischief

1 : a specific injury or damage attributed to a particular agent the polished floor … often causes mischiefs — bruises, sprains, dislocations— Herbert Spencer
2 : a cause or source of harm, evil, or irritation especially : a person who causes mischief He's a real mischief to his family.
3a : action that annoys or irritates Halloween mischiefs
b : the quality or state of being mischievous : mischievousness had mischief in his eyes

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Examples of mischief in a Sentence

It's hard to keep him out of mischief. the children claimed that setting off a firecracker was harmless mischief, but they got a lecture anyway

Recent Examples on the Web

Ashlea Beck is facing charges of criminal mischief and harassing trappers after releasing deer that were captured by net on March 8, 2018 in Lakeway, Texas. William Axford, Houston Chronicle, "A central Texas woman freed deer captured by net. Now she's facing charges.," 7 June 2018 That same year, the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of a Philomath man who was convicted of criminal mischief after his neighbors complained about the constant stench of his pot smoke wafting over to their apartments. Aimee Green, OregonLive.com, "Pearl District pot shop says it's not smelly, asks judge for help to stay put," 6 Apr. 2018 The report also says a TV spinoff is potentially in the works for our favorite god of mischief, Loki (played in the films by Tom Hiddleston. Brianna Wiest, Teen Vogue, "Marvel's Scarlet Witch Is Getting Her Own Live-Action TV Show," 19 Sep. 2018 Trumpian corruption, in this version, is almost a footnote to the baseline level of mischief, a kind of malignancy that inevitably erupts in an already-diseased culture. Mark Schmitt, Vox, "Stop saying “drain the swamp”," 7 Sep. 2018 There’s whimsy and mischief, and a real sense of place and time. Joshua Levine, WSJ, "A Moroccan Retreat With a French Minimalist Spin," 13 Aug. 2018 Smith faces charges that include reckless conduct, disobeying a police officer, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, driving after suspension/revocation, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, and driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol. Andres Picon, BostonGlobe.com, "Man flees police, crashes car in Manchester, N.H.," 10 July 2018 The teen pleaded guilty and was convicted of criminal mischief. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Ohio judge orders teen who pushed over portable toilet to clean up animal waste," 31 July 2018 Each person arrested was charged with mischief and violation of the Canada Shipping Act, which could mean up to $1 million in fines and 18 months in prison, according to CTV News. Maia Wikler, Teen Vogue, "12 Activists Blocked an Oil Tanker Transporting From the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada," 6 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mischief.' 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 mischief

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mischief

Middle English meschief, from Anglo-French, misfortune, hardship, from Old French meschever to come out badly, mes- + chief head, end — more at chief

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Statistics for mischief

Last Updated

18 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for mischief

The first known use of mischief was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for mischief



English Language Learners Definition of mischief

: behavior or activity that is annoying but that is not meant to cause serious harm or damage

: a playful desire to cause trouble

: harmful behavior


mis·​chief | \ ˈmis-chəf \

Kids Definition of mischief

1 : behavior or activity that annoys or bothers but is not meant to cause serious harm It was a typical school plan to keep us out of mischief.— Richard Peck, A Year Down Yonder
2 : injury or damage caused by a person

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More from Merriam-Webster on mischief

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for mischief

Spanish Central: Translation of mischief

Nglish: Translation of mischief for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mischief for Arabic Speakers

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