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Definition of “mess” - English Dictionary

"mess" in American English

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 us   /mes/
  • mess noun (DISORDER)

[C usually sing] a ​condition of ​disorder and ​confusion, or something in that ​condition: They ​left the ​kitchen a mess. We ​sat in ​traffic for two ​hours while they ​cleaned up the mess from the ​accident.
[C usually sing] A mess is also a ​dirtycondition: The puppy’s made a mess on the ​diningroomrug.
[C usually sing] A mess is also a ​situation that is ​full of ​problems and ​difficulties: Traffic was a mess.
  • mess noun (ROOM)

[C] (also mess hall,  /ˈmes·hɔl/ ) a ​room or ​building in which ​members of the ​militaryeattheirmeals: the ​officers’ mess
verb [I/T]  us   /mes/
infml [I/T] Don’t mess up my ​hair – I just ​combed it.
(Definition of mess from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"mess" in British English

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uk   /mes/  us   /mes/
  • mess noun (DIRT/UNTIDINESS)

B1 [S or U] Something or someone that is a mess, or is in a mess, ​looksdirty or ​untidy: He makes aterrible mess when he's ​cooking.UK Jem's ​house is always in a mess. Go and clean up that mess in the ​kitchen.UK Freddy can't ​stand mess.mainly drUK I look a mess - I can't go out like this! My hair's such a mess today!
[C] an animal's ​solidwaste: Fido ​left another mess on the ​carpet.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • mess noun (PROBLEMS)

B2 [S] a ​situation that is ​full of ​problems: She said that her ​life was a mess. I got myself into a mess by ​telling a ​lie. The company's ​finances are in a mess.
[S] a ​person whose ​life is ​full of ​problems they cannot ​deal with: After the ​divorce he was a ​real mess and ​starteddrinking too much.
make a mess of sth (also mess sth up)
to do something ​badly or ​spoil something: I made a ​real mess of my ​finalexams.
  • mess noun (ROOM)

[C] (US also mess hall) a ​room or ​building in which ​members of the ​armedforces have ​theirmeals or ​spendtheirfreetime: The ​captain was having ​breakfast in the mess ​hall. They ​spenttheirevenings in the officers' mess, ​drinking and ​playingcards.
[C] Indian English a ​largepublicroom where ​people have ​theirmeals


uk   /mes/  us   /mes/
[T] mainly US (UK mess up) informal to make something ​untidy: Don't you ​dare mess my ​hair!
[I] to ​leavesolidwastesomewhere: The neighbour's ​dog has messed on ​ourlawn again!
(Definition of mess from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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