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mess around

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phrasal verb British informal
Word Forms
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present tense
I/you/we/theymess around
he/she/itmesses around
present participlemessing around
past tensemessed around
past participlemessed around
  1. 1
    [intransitive] to behave in a silly way, especially when you should be working or paying attention to something
    Stop messing around – I’m serious about this!
  2. 2
    [intransitive] to spend time doing things in a relaxed way
    We spent the weekend messing around on John’s boat.
  3. 3
    [intransitive] to waste time doing things that are not important
    There’s no point messing around. Let’s start now.
    not mess around: They don’t mess around, do they? I ordered the book yesterday and it’s already here.
  4. 4
    [intransitive] to try to change or repair something, especially when this is unnecessary or unsuccessful
    mess around with: He’ll spend hours messing around with that motorcycle.
  5. 5
    [intransitive] to have sex or a sexual relationship with someone, especially when you should not
    mess around with: Diane’s been messing around with a married man.
    Synonyms and related words
See also main entry: mess

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