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

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 The adult is Nathan Monroy, 18, who was arrested and placed in the Purgatory Correctional Facility on a second-degree felony charge of criminal mischief. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 1 Aug. 2022 In their rudimentary forms, DDoS attacks can be a kind of mischief helpful to a gamer who might want to boot another player from the game. Alex Morris, Rolling Stone, 8 July 2022 Both suspects were charged with 22 counts of grand theft of a firearm, one count of armed burglary, one count of criminal mischief over $1,000, one count of resisting without violence, and possession of violation of probation. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 12 June 2022 The brothers were each charged with 22 counts of grand theft of a firearm, one count of armed burglary, one count of criminal mischief over $1,000, one count of possessing burglary tools and one count of resisting without violence, Green said. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 9 June 2022 In 2014, Barber was detained by police and taken to a hospital for a mental health examination, and in 2019, he was arrested on two counts of criminal mischief. Ben Volin, BostonGlobe.com, 4 June 2022 For decades, this rusty old half of a train bridge to nowhere has served only as an obstacle for boaters and a platform for teenage trespassers and mischief-makers. Brian Amaral, BostonGlobe.com, 18 July 2022 In 1789, without an outlet for his mischief and deprived of the nourishment that had always sustained him—the fresh sensations of lust and wanderlust—Casanova consoled himself by embarking on his memoirs. Judith Thurman, The New Yorker, 20 June 2022 Once complete, my mischief would have no apparent author. New York Times, 7 June 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Mischief.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mischief. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for mischief


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

More from Merriam-Webster on mischief

Nglish: Translation of mischief for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mischief for Arabic Speakers


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