mis·​chief ˈmis-chəf How to pronounce mischief (audio)
: a specific injury or damage attributed to a particular agent
the polished floor … often causes mischiefs—bruises, sprains, dislocationsHerbert Spencer
: a cause or source of harm, evil, or irritation
especially : a person who causes mischief
He's a real mischief to his family.
: action that annoys or irritates
Halloween mischiefs
: the quality or state of being mischievous : mischievousness
had mischief in his eyes

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 charged with second-degree assault and criminal mischief. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 20 Nov. 2023 Fenton, 32, was charged with third-degree arson, third-degree burglary, second-degree criminal mischief, and second-degree assault. Ingrid Vasquez, Peoplemag, 11 Nov. 2023 The mischief’s still there, but alongside it, darkening its colors, is the shadow of experience. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 6 Nov. 2023 Grace Jabbari was briefly put under arrest at a New York City police station Wednesday evening and charged with misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief. Jake Offenhartz, Fortune, 26 Oct. 2023 By the finale, the god of mischief had honed his skills to control time at will. Michaela Zee, Variety, 13 Nov. 2023 In the meantime, your girl will have to court mischief to eat or go hungry. Anna Deavere Smith, The Atlantic, 13 Nov. 2023 Besides his bond with Mobius, the god of mischief also develops a strained relationship with a female variant, Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). Ken Makin, The Christian Science Monitor, 9 Nov. 2023 Although most incidents have occurred on public property, the New York Police Department said officers arrested two people Wednesday night on suspicion of criminal mischief for allegedly tearing down kidnap posters on private property. Deon J. Hampton, NBC News, 9 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mischief.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near mischief

Cite this Entry

“Mischief.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mischief. Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


mis·​chief ˈmis-chəf How to pronounce mischief (audio)
: a person or animal who causes mischief
: mischievous conduct or quality
a child gets into mischief
had mischief in their eyes

More from Merriam-Webster on mischief

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