mess - definition and synonyms


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present tense
present participlemessing
past tensemessed
past participlemessed

phrasal verbs

mess about

or mess around

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. 3
    [transitive] mess someone about to treat someone badly, especially by changing your mind or by not doing what you promised
  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

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

    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 someone’s physical, emotional, or mental problems

    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

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
  3. 3
    mess with someone’s head very informal to seriously upset someone or make them confused