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mess - definition and synonyms


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verb mess pronunciation in British English /mes/
Word Forms
present tense
present participlemessing
past tensemessed
past participlemessed
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phrasal verbs

mess about

or mess around

Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theymess about
he/she/itmesses about
present participlemessing about
past tensemessed about
past participlemessed about
British informal
  1. 1
    [intransitive] to behave in a silly way, especially when you should be working or paying attention to something
    Stop messing about – I’m serious about this!
  2. 2
    [intransitive] to spend time doing things in a relaxed way
    We spent the weekend messing about on John’s boat.
  3. 4
    [intransitive] to waste time doing things that are not important
    There’s no point messing about. Let’s start now.
    not mess about: They don’t mess about, do they? I ordered the book yesterday and it’s already come.
  4. 5
    [intransitive] to try to change or repair something, especially when this is unnecessary or unsuccessful
    mess about with: He’ll spend hours messing about with that motorbike.
  5. 6
    [intransitive] to have sex or a sexual relationship with someone, especially when you should not
    mess about with: Diane’s been messing around with a married man.

mess up

Word Forms
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 says she completely messed up the interview.
    You messed up. Don’t let it happen again.
  2. 2
    [transitive] to make something dirty or untidy
    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.

mess with

or mess around with

Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theymess with
he/she/itmesses with
present participlemessing with
past tensemessed with
past participlemessed with
  1. 1
    mess with someone to make someone angry, or to argue with them
    I wouldn’t mess with her if I were you.
  2. 2
    mess with something to become involved with something that is dangerous
    A lot of the kids had been messing with drugs.
    Synonyms and related words


a meal served in the evening which consists of foods traditionally eaten at breakfast

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