mis·​chie·​vous ˈmis-chə-vəs How to pronounce mischievous (audio)
mis-ˈchē-vē-əs How to pronounce mischievous (audio)
: harmful, injurious
mischievous gossip
: able or tending to cause annoyance, trouble, or minor injury
: irresponsibly playful
mischievous behavior
mischievously adverb
mischievousness noun
Mischievous vs. Mischievious: Usage Guide

A pronunciation \mis-ˈchē-vē-əs\ and a consequent spelling mischievious are of long standing: evidence for the spelling goes back to the 16th century. Our pronunciation files contain modern attestations ranging from dialect speakers to Herbert Hoover. But both the pronunciation and the spelling are still considered nonstandard.

Examples of mischievous in a Sentence

In passing the test of killing itself if infected, cancerous or genetically mischievous, a cell by definition dies. Matt Ridley, Genome, 1999
… Pedro Martinez, could be found in the dugout, usually wearing sneakers instead of spikes, his tongue flying about as fiercely as one of his mischievous fastballs. Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, 11 Oct. 1999
Setsu grew, too, from a mischievous, laughing little girl into a gay, willful, pretty girl. Pearl S. Buck, The Big Wave, 1947
the children had been so mischievous that we had to pay the babysitter extra and then clean up the mess punished for their mischievous tricks on the neighbors
Recent Examples on the Web Prince George and Savannah Phillips, the daughter of Prince William's cousin Peter Phillips and his ex-wife Autumn, were an adorable (and sometimes mischievous!) pair during several royal events. Stephanie Petit, Peoplemag, 25 Dec. 2023 His Clown Prince of Crime was credible as both a mischievous prankster and a devious, murdering mastermind. Jack Butler, National Review, 30 Dec. 2023 Afterward, the officer retrieves a broom to sweep up and organize the chaos left behind by the mischievous dog. Chris Barilla, Peoplemag, 9 Jan. 2024 Theatre passes quickly, but thankfully Burrows’s wise, passionate, mischievous voice has been preserved. Helen Shaw, The New Yorker, 5 Jan. 2024 From mischievous to Odysseus The winners of the Navy’s New Year’s deck log competition tend to summarize events of the year with a soupçon of levity. Anna Mulrine Grobe, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 Jan. 2024 Mckenna posed with her tongue out and a defiant, mischievous smile. Caitlin Flynn, Rolling Stone, 21 Dec. 2023 Could this be who awaits the Fifteenth Doctor in 2024? How this new incarnation of the lead will play out will be seen shortly, but Gatwa himself says his take on the Time Lord is flirty, cheeky and mischievous. Cameron K McEwan, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Dec. 2023 Known locally as Johnny rooks, these mischievous, playful and often destructive falcons excel at problem-solving, acting rather like keas, a highly intelligent alpine parrot that lives in the mountains of New Zealand. Grrlscientist, Forbes, 11 Dec. 2023 See More

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

Word History


see mischief

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near mischievous

Cite this Entry

“Mischievous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mischievous. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


mis·​chie·​vous ˈmis-chə-vəs How to pronounce mischievous (audio) ˈmish- How to pronounce mischievous (audio)
: harming or intended to do harm
mischievous gossip
: causing or tending to cause minor injury or annoyance
a mischievous puppy
: showing a spirit of mischief
mischievous behavior
mischievously adverb
mischievousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on mischievous

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