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[mis-chuh-vuh s] /ˈmɪs tʃə vəs/
maliciously or playfully annoying.
causing annoyance, harm, or trouble.
roguishly or slyly teasing, as a glance.
harmful or injurious.
Origin of mischievous
1300-50; Middle English mischevous < Anglo-French meschevous. See mischief, -ous
Related forms
mischievously, adverb
mischievousness, noun
nonmischievous, adjective
nonmischievously, adverb
nonmischievousness, noun
unmischievous, adjective
unmischievously, adverb
Pronunciation note
The word mischievous has three syllables, mis-chie-vous, with the stress on the first syllable:
[mis-chuh-vuh s] /ˈmɪs tʃə vəs/ (Show IPA).
There is a common tendency to shift the stress to the second syllable and say or write the word as if there were an extra letter i after the v, turning it into a four-syllable word:
[mis-chee-vee-uh s] /mɪsˈtʃi vi əs/ .
These alterations of the pronunciation (and sometimes even the spelling) may occur in part because in many English words ie is pronounced like ee, as in chief, in part because many words end with [-ee-uh s] /-i əs/ spelled either -ious (as in devious) or -eous (as in aqueous), and in part because of confusion over where the second i in the word belongs. The Oxford English Dictionary reports that for some time in the evolution of the word—from about the sixteenth to the eighteenth century— mischievious was actually a fairly standard alternative spelling. Today, however, both the four-syllable spelling and the four-syllable pronunciation are generally regarded as nonstandard. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mischievous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • One man's best remedies were held as mischievous by another.

    Medical Essays Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • "And that would be a great pity," said Quicksilver, with his mischievous smile.

    The Gorgon's Head Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The mischievous, dare-devil expression of her face when awake was softened in her sleep.

    The Rebel of the School Mrs. L. T. Meade
  • Of all mortal possessions they are the most useless, mischievous, and baleful.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • They are the cares and troubles of our antiquated, mischievous system of housekeeping.

    The home Charlotte Perkins Gilman
British Dictionary definitions for mischievous


inclined to acts of mischief
teasing; slightly malicious: a mischievous grin
causing or intended to cause harm: a mischievous plot
Derived Forms
mischievously, adverb
mischievousness, 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 mischievous

early 14c., "unfortunate, disastrous," probably from mischief + -ous. Sense of "playfully malicious or annoying" first recorded 1670s. Related: Mischievously; mischievousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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