Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

mess up

 - definition
Close

What are red words?

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.

Close

Thesaurus

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary entries. Click on the T button in an entry to review the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

more
phrasal verb
Word Forms
Close
present tense
I/you/we/theymess up
he/she/itmesses up
present participlemessing up
past tensemessed up
past participlemessed up
  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 someone's 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

protologism

a new word or phrase invented in the hope that it will become generally used

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

garbage patch

a collection of debris, mostly consisting of plastic, which moves around in the sea …

add a word

Blog

A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog