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[mes-ee] /ˈmɛs i/
adjective, messier, messiest.
characterized by a dirty, untidy, or disordered condition:
a messy room.
causing a mess:
a messy recipe; messy work.
embarrassing, difficult, or unpleasant:
a messy political situation.
characterized by moral or psychological confusion.
Origin of messy
1835-45; mess + -y1
Related forms
messiness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for messy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The nurseries overflow with messy pets—nor does Puck ever remember to feed his guinea-pig.

    Twos and Threes G. B. Stern
  • Thousands of other planets will gain the settlers that messy Row loses.

    Mezzerow Loves Company Floyd L. Wallace
  • And if he's at all messy about it, I give you leave to roll him downstairs.

  • Sorry to sacrifice you, honey, but the other way is just too messy.

    The Deadly Daughters Winston K. Marks
  • It was not easy; it was a hot, messy, scratchy, grunting job.

    The Car That Went Abroad Albert Bigelow Paine
British Dictionary definitions for messy


adjective messier, messiest
dirty, confused, or untidy
Derived Forms
messily, adverb
messiness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for messy

1843, "untidy," from mess (n.) + -y (2). Figurative use ("unethical") by 1924. Related: Messily; messiness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for messy



  1. Confused; chaotic; fucked up
  2. Nasty; dirty: There'll be a lot of messy publicity about this (1940s+)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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