If something is not organized, it might be a mess. A mess results when things are not in order, or when mistakes are made. A mess could also be a problem that is not easy to fix.
- Linda created a big mess in the kitchen as she was making a cake.
- Terry’s hair is a mess today.
- My son has to clean his room. It’s a mess.
- Traffic is a big mess this morning due to a construction project.
- The situation in the Middle East is a mess.
In the next set of sentences, the word "mess" is a verb:
- The children messed up the whole house when they had their friends over. (The preposition "up" often follows the word "mess.")
- The house was all messed up.
- John said he messed up his test.
- I’m sorry, I messed up. (In this sentence, "mess up" means to make a mistake.)
As a form of slang, "mess" + "with" = mess with. To mess with something or someone means to change, touch, adjust, fool, or cause trouble:
- Don’t mess with my computer. (Don’t change anything on it.)
- Tim’s not serious. He’s just messing with you. (He’s just joking.)
- This optical illusion is messing with my head.
To mess around is to have a relationship with another person.
- Tina caught her husband messing around with another woman.
- A couple of teenagers were messing around in the backseat of a car until a police officer walked up and tapped on the window.
However, to mess around is also similar to goof around or screw around.
- Stop messing around and get back to work.
- The kids are messing around in the basement.
Click here to go to the Word of the Day page.
This page was first published on October 1, 2012. It was updated on October 23, 2015.