mis·​chief | \ ˈmis-chəf How to pronounce mischief (audio) , 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

He was issued a civil citation for criminal mischief with a recommendation that he be evaluated as a candidate for the fire starter program. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "Here's how NOT to change the color of your mood ring. First-grader gets a hard lesson. | Miami Herald," 19 May 2018 The drone, being flown by Lynn Fodale and Teddy Henn, was on a mission to find a lost dog named Dezie when it was felled by Chasteen, who is now being charged with third-degree criminal mischief and prohibited use of a weapon. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Man Shotguns Drone Searching for Lost Dog," 25 Feb. 2019 In October, a Hawaii man reportedly was charged with criminal mischief for defacing four golf courses owned by the Trump Organization, by allegedly carving messages into the greens. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Anti-Trump vandalism sweeps country: Yacht, Hollywood star latest targets," 9 Aug. 2018 The Queens district attorney charged one Local 3 member with criminal mischief for allegedly cutting cables that knocked out service for 38,000 Spectrum customers. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "New York’s Charter Mugging," 2 Aug. 2018 Antoine Guyton also was charged with criminal mischief and related offenses. Robert Moran, Philly.com, "Man charged with vandalizing Israeli flag on Parkway," 16 May 2018 Consequently, Castle and her follow student protesters -- Cecile Carter, Sydney Goldfinch and Rudy Lombard -- were charged with criminal mischief for refusing to leave McCrory's. Mike Scott, NOLA.com, "She sat down, but this New Orleans woman wasn't about to shut up," 8 May 2018 Hurst was taken into custody and charged with armed burglary, aggravated assault, battery, criminal mischief, and aggravated assault, police said. David Caraccio, sacbee, "Watch police K-9 snatch a loaded shotgun from armed suspect," 26 June 2018 He was charged with felony criminal mischief, as well as charges of assault, attempted assault, menacing and reckless endangerment. Jason Hanna, CNN, "Conor McGregor expresses regret over bus brawl after brief court appearance," 14 June 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

12 Apr 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
somewhat formal : harmful behavior


mis·​chief | \ ˈmis-chəf How to pronounce mischief (audio) \

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

Comments on mischief

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


something valued as if it were money

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