The word "mess" can be a verb or a noun. It describes disorganization and problems.

As a verb, it’s often used with the preposition "up":

  • The children messed up their play area very quickly.
  • Tom messed up his test. (He didn’t do well.)
  • "Try not to mess yourself up before our guests arrive," said the mother to her children.
  • The wind messed up my hair.

When the preposition "with" is used with "mess" it has a few different meanings.

  • Don’t mess with that guy. He’s mean. (Don’t disturb him or else he might hurt you.)
  • Don’t mess with that. (Don’t touch that.)
  • I’m just messing with you. (I’m just kidding. What I said wasn’t serious.)

In the next set of sentences, the word "mess" is a noun:

  • Tom made a big mess in the kitchen, but he didn’t clean it up.
  • This house is a mess.
  • The financial crisis has made a big mess for everyone to deal with.
  • Andrea’s life is a mess. She needs a lot of support from family and friends.
  • Our neighborhood was a mess after the storm.


There’s a big mess on the floor.

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(This was first published on December 9, 2011. Additions were made on December 13, 2014.)