SKIP TO CONTENT

mess

A mess is a generally dirty state, like your bedroom, your hair, or anything else that's untidy. If you make a huge mess when you cook, you probably try to get someone else to do the clean-up.

In addition to describing a jumble of stuff, mess can describe a confused or difficult situation, like the mess your finances are in if you have seven credit cards. When you mess something up, you cause disorder and maybe even wreck something, like a friendship you messed up by gossiping. And you might eat in a mess hall, a cafeteria for members of the armed forces — and it's probably very neat and orderly, not messy.

Definitions of mess
  1. noun
    a state of confusion and disorderliness
    “the house was a mess
    synonyms: messiness, muss, mussiness
    see moresee less
    type of:
    disorder, disorderliness
    a condition in which things are not in their expected places
  2. noun
    informal terms for a difficult situation
    synonyms: fix, hole, jam, kettle of fish, muddle, pickle
    see moresee less
    types:
    dog's breakfast, dog's dinner
    a poor job; a mess
    type of:
    difficulty
    a condition or state of affairs almost beyond one's ability to deal with and requiring great effort to bear or overcome
  3. verb
    make a mess of or create disorder in
    “He messed up his room”
    synonyms: mess up
    see moresee less
    type of:
    disarray, disorder
    bring disorder to
  4. noun
    a (large) military dining room where service personnel eat or relax
    synonyms: mess hall
    see moresee less
    types:
    officer's mess
    a mess for the exclusive use of officers
    type of:
    dining room, dining-room
    a room used for dining
  5. noun
    a meal eaten in a mess hall by service personnel
    see moresee less
    type of:
    meal, repast
    the food served and eaten at one time
  6. verb
    eat in a mess hall
    see moresee less
    type of:
    eat
    eat a meal; take a meal
  7. noun
    (often followed by `of') a large number or amount or extent
    synonyms: batch, deal, flock, good deal, great deal, hatful, heap, lot, mass, mickle, mint, mountain, muckle, passel, peck, pile, plenty, pot, quite a little, raft, sight, slew, spate, stack, tidy sum, wad
    see moresee less
    types:
    barrage, deluge, flood, flurry, inundation, torrent
    an overwhelming number or amount
    haymow
    a mass of hay piled up in a barn for preservation
    type of:
    large indefinite amount, large indefinite quantity
    an indefinite quantity that is above the average in size or magnitude
  8. noun
    soft semiliquid food
    “a mess of porridge”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    aliment, alimentation, nourishment, nutriment, nutrition, sustenance, victuals
    a source of materials to nourish the body
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week