Definition of “mess” - English Dictionary

“mess” in British English

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uk /mes/ us /mes/


B1 [ S or U ] Something or someone that is a mess, or is in a mess, looks dirty or untidy:

He makes a terrible 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 solid waste:

Fido left another mess on the carpet.

More examples

  • I hope something good can come out of this mess.
  • I made a complete and utter mess of it!
  • My Dad gets cross (with me) if I leave the kitchen in a mess.
  • I wish you'd do something about your bedroom - it's a real mess.
  • I gave Jim very clear instructions, but even then he managed to make a mess of it.

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 started drinking 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 final exams.


uk /mes/ us /mes/

(Definition of “mess” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“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 dirty condition:

The puppy’s made a mess on the dining room rug.

[ 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 military eat their meals:

the officers’ mess
verb [ I/T ] us /mes/


[ I/T ] Don’t mess up my hair – I just combed it.

(Definition of “mess” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)