Did you know?

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

mess - definition and synonyms

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.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

noun     mess pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
  1. 1
    [countable/uncountable] a situation in which a place is dirty or not neat

    Your room is a mess; please pick up your toys.

    “What a mess!” she said, looking at the kitchen.

    make a mess:

    Try not to make a mess on the clean carpet.

    1. a.
      [countable] something that has been accidentally dropped or carelessly left, so that it makes a place look dirty

      I cleaned up the mess with a napkin.

      There was a sticky mess on the kitchen floor.

      Synonyms and related words
    2. b.
      [singular] someone or something that looks dirty, not neat, or in bad condition

      Look at you – you’re a mess!

      Mark’s jeans were a mess by the time he finished painting.

  2. 2
    [singular] a difficult situation with a lot of problems, especially because people have made mistakes

    an economic mess

    get into a mess:

    I don’t know how we got into this mess.

    get someone into a mess:

    You got me into this mess in the first place.

  3. 3
    [singular] informal someone who is so nervous or who has so many problems that they cannot have a normal life

    I was a complete mess after the divorce.

  4. 4
    [countable/uncountable] solid waste from an animal
  5. 5
    [countable] a room where people have their meals in the military
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


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
Macmillan learn live love play