mess1 S2 [mes] n
3 make a mess of (doing) something
5 a mess of something
7¦(waste substance)¦
[Date: 1200-1300; : Old French; Origin: mes 'food', from Late Latin missus 'course at a meal', from Latin mittere 'to send']
1.) ¦(DIRTY/UNTIDY)¦ [singular, U]
if there is a mess somewhere or a place is a mess, things there are dirty or not neatly arranged
What a mess!
Sorry - the place is a bit of a mess .
When I got home, the house was a complete mess .
in a mess BrE
The burglars left the house in an awful mess.
You can make cookies if you promise not to make a mess in the kitchen.
clear/clean up the mess
Whoever is responsible for this mess can clear it up immediately!
She hates mess.
2.) ¦(PROBLEMS/DIFFICULTIES)¦ [singular, U]
a situation in which there are a lot of problems and difficulties, especially as a result of mistakes or carelessness
My life's such a mess .
in a mess
The economy is still in a terrible mess.
You got us into this mess , Terry. You can get us out of it.
All she could do was pray that, somehow, she might be able to sort out the mess she had got herself into.
3.) make a mess of (doing) sth
to do something badly
I feel I've made a real mess of my marriage.
Many people make a mess of handling money.
4.) ¦(PERSON)¦
be a mess informal
if someone is a mess, they look dirty and untidy, or are in a bad emotional state
5.) a mess of sth
AmE informal a lot of something
a mess of fresh fish
6.) ¦(ARMY/NAVY)¦
a room in which members of the army, navy etc eat and drink together
We had lunch in the officers' mess .
7.) ¦(WASTE SUBSTANCE)¦ [U and C]
BrE informal solid waste from an animal
The dog's made a mess on the carpet.
mess 2
mess2 S3 v
1.) [T]
to make something look untidy or dirty
He scratched his head and messed his hair even more.
2.) [I and T] BrE
if an animal or person messes something, they use the wrong place as a toilet
He was so drunk that he messed the bed.
3.) no messing
spoken informal used to say that something was done very easily
Williams won very comfortably, no messing.
to have meals in a room where members of the army, navy etc eat together
mess around [i]phr v
1.) to spend time lazily, doing things slowly and in a way that is not planned
He spent his vacation messing around on the farm.
2.) to behave in a silly way when you should be paying attention or doing something sensible
= ↑fool around
Stop messing around and get ready for school.
3.) mess sb around
to cause a lot of problems for someone, especially by changing your mind often and not being completely honest
Don't mess me about - I want the money you promised me.
mess around with / [mess around with sb/sth] phr v
1.) to have a sexual relationship with someone that you should not have a sexual relationship with
She'd been messing around with another man.
2.) to spend time playing with something, repairing it etc
Dave likes messing around with old cars.
3.) to use something and make annoying changes to it
Who's been messing around with my camera?
mess up phr v
1.) mess sth<=>up
to spoil or ruin something, especially something important or something that has been carefully planned
It took me ages to get this right - I don't want some idiot to mess it up.
She felt she'd messed up her whole life.
2.) mess sth<=>up
to make something dirty or untidy
Who messed up the kitchen?
3.) to make a mistake and do something badly
I think I messed up on the last question.
mess sth<=>up
It doesn't matter if you mess it up, you can always try again.
4.) mess sb<=>up
to make someone have emotional or mental problems
I messed up my kids.
5.) mess sb<=>up
AmE informal to hurt someone especially by hitting them
mess with / [mess with sb/sth] phr v
1.) to get involved with someone or something that may cause problems or be dangerous
Don't mess with drugs.
2.) to deceive someone or cause trouble for them
You mess with me, and I'll rip your head off.
3.) to try changing something, especially in a way that damages or spoils it

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.

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