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 Spencer says he was charged with criminal mischief, trespassing and disorderly conduct. Trevor Peters, The Enquirer, "Mayor Nancy Spencer: Madeira police had over 50 reports of Black Lives Matter signs that were vandalized," 8 Sep. 2020 Criminal mischief: Dennis Lane Brunswick City Councilman Anthony Capretta reported that two of his campaign signs had been removed from his privacy fence overnight Aug. 26. Brian Lisik, cleveland, "Brunswick councilman’s neighbor removes campaign signs: Brunswick Police Blotter," 7 Sep. 2020 Three people were charged with criminal mischief in June after police said they were caught spray painting it. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville is removing the downtown King Louis XVI statue at Sixth and Jefferson streets," 3 Sep. 2020 Police cited a man identified as Eric Herrera with criminal mischief as a result of the incident. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Vandal burns Montana family's Trump flags as children sleep yards away: 'Could have easily burned my house down'," 29 Aug. 2020 He is also charged with criminal mischief, accused of shooting pellet guns at a street sign, according to the complaint. Anna Sturla, Sheena Jones And Melanie Schuman, CNN, "New York couple arrested for allegedly harassing neighbor after 3-year back and forth," 20 Aug. 2020 Those new charges are misdemeanor harassment and two counts of felony criminal mischief. John Lynch, Arkansas Online, "Marker's destroyer is back in custody," 10 Aug. 2020 Two of those charged, Madalena McNeil and Marvin Oliveros, were accused of first-degree felony criminal mischief with a gang enhancement that could make the count punishable by up to life in prison. Bethany Rodgers, The Salt Lake Tribune, "More protesters charged with painting outside the Salt Lake County district attorney’s office," 5 Aug. 2020 Stone has been charged with criminal mischief, making graffiti, and possession of a graffiti instrument for her alleged involvement in five incidents including the destruction of police cameras. Chris Harris, PEOPLE.com, "Outcry After 18-Year-Old Protestor Is Seen Being Pulled into Unmarked NYPD Van in Viral Video," 30 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for mischief

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for mischief

Last Updated

12 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mischief.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mischief. Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for mischief


How to pronounce mischief (audio)

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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