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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 mischievously
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The "California Pet's" black eyes sparkled approvingly and mischievously.

  • Do you not perceive that I am already overtaken by the Nymphs to whom you have mischievously exposed me?

    Phaedrus Plato
  • "He is on his knees half the time now," said Father Olivier mischievously.

    Old Kaskaskia Mary Hartwell Catherwood
  • "And standing well in Cicero," added Uncle Johnny, mischievously.

    Highacres Jane Abbott
  • “I believe it will tumble all to pieces,” cried Carey, mischievously.

    King o' the Beach George Manville Fenn
  • "Must have been a whale, Ben," answered Roger, mischievously.

    Dave Porter At Bear Camp Edward Stratemeyer
  • The Captain fastened his half conspicuously over his breast, and Peggy mischievously slipped hers upon the marriage finger.

    Sir Christopher Maud Wilder Goodwin
  • "And the pup-pup-pergola, too," added Patricia mischievously.

    Miss Pat at School Pemberton Ginther
British Dictionary definitions for mischievously


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 mischievously



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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