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mess up - definition and synonyms


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90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



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phrasal verb
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theymess up
he/she/itmesses up
present participlemessing up
past tensemessed up
past participlemessed up
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  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to make a mistake, or to do something badly
    She thinks she completely messed up the interview.
    You messed up. Don’t let it happen again.
  2. 2
    [transitive] to make something dirty or not neat
    They had managed to mess up the whole office.
    The wind had messed his hair up.
  3. 3
    [transitive] informal to be the cause of someones physical, emotional, or mental problems
    Drugs really messed her up.
    The virus messed up my body so badly that they told me I was going to die.
  4. 4
    [transitive] to damage or spoil something
    I’m not going to let him mess up my life.
See also main entry: mess


a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

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an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air; from the Latin 'hypocaustum'

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