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.

Example Sentences

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 In our supreme age of intellectual property, true crime is as much a Hollywood brand as Marvel, Star Wars, and those mischievous Minions. Matthew Jacobs, Town & Country, 28 Apr. 2023 Linda Brovsky directs this full-scale, mainstage opera together with PSU’s full Voice program participants set in a mystical world of fantasy filled with dragons, mischievous fairies and charming forest animals. oregonlive, 20 Apr. 2023 Capturing all that joyous, mischievous energy was like putting lightning in a bottle. Jan Brett, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Feb. 2023 On his right arm, Davidson has a tattoo of the Cheshire Cat, the famously mischievous character from Alice in Wonderland. Catherine Santino, Peoplemag, 23 Jan. 2023 Many of these mischievous characters have become synonymous with the Disney brand and are considered some of the most recognizable personas in pop culture. James Barrett, Country Living, 23 Jan. 2023 The piece is delightfully meta-theatrical, a mischievous personal assault on the glittery illusion of showbiz success and a taunting exposé of Berlant’s own ambitions. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 9 Jan. 2023 Drama teacher and director Danielle Dickstein said the Liberty Drama rendition of the play keeps to the traditional Grecian feel of the show in presenting Shakespeare’s magical, mischievous dreamland. Thomas Goodwin Smith, Baltimore Sun, 11 Nov. 2022 When the Maitlands' attempts to frighten the Deetzs away fail miserably, Barbara and Adam turn to the mysterious and mischievous Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to rid them of the living. Steven Thrash, EW.com, 28 Oct. 2022 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 31 May. 2023.

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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