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

Criminal mischief in the second degree in Oregon is defined as causing property damage exceeding $500. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, "Oregon Ducks walk-on kicker Zach Emerson arrested for 2 misdemeanors," 9 Sep. 2019 Leadens was taken to Wildwood Pre-Trial Facility, where he is charged with domestic violence assault in the third degree, assault in the third degree, a DUI and criminal mischief. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "Soldotna man arrested after driving an excavator into his own house," 9 Sep. 2019 The desert then returns any mischief right back, playing tricks on people who come. Emily Badger, New York Times, "A Nobel-Winning Economist Goes to Burning Man," 5 Sep. 2019 Miami-Dade prosecutors released the footage Wednesday after charging McGregor with robbery by sudden snatching and criminal mischief. Emily Caron, SI.com, "Conor McGregor Says He 'Was In The Wrong' in Dublin Bar Fight," 22 Aug. 2019 David Petrocco pleaded guilty in April 2018 to misdemeanor third-degree assault and criminal mischief in connection with the domestic violence complaint, according to court records. Sam Tabachnik, The Denver Post, "Family calls for DA to recuse himself from investigation of Adams County victim advocate’s death due to affair," 15 Aug. 2019 The three people police are searching for in connection to the Harlem video are wanted for assault and criminal mischief. Greg Norman | Fox News, Fox News, "NYPD makes arrest following viral videos of officers being splashed with water," 24 July 2019 Toun was arrested and charged with two counts of felony theft from his previous warrant, as well as charges of criminal mischief and attempted burglary of a commercial business, Martin said. Alyssa Lukpat, BostonGlobe.com, "Portland, Maine, police arrest man, 30, for allegedly trying to break into museum," 21 Aug. 2019 Adults aren’t immune to the temptations of mischief. Paul Bloom, The New Yorker, "The Strange Appeal of Perverse Actions," 19 July 2019

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

13 Sep 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).


concealment of treason or felony

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