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.

Primary Meanings of mess

a state of confusion and disorderliness
make a mess of or create disorder in
a (large) military dining room where service personnel eat or relax
eat in a mess hall
(often followed by `of') a large number or amount or extent
soft semiliquid food
Full Definitions of mess

n a state of confusion and disorderliness

“the house was a mess
messiness, muss, mussiness
Type of:
disorder, disorderliness
a condition in which things are not in their expected places

n informal terms for a difficult situation

fix, hole, jam, kettle of fish, muddle, pickle
dog's breakfast, dog's dinner
a poor job; a mess
Type of:
a condition or state of affairs almost beyond one's ability to deal with and requiring great effort to bear or overcome

v make a mess of or create disorder in

“He messed up his room”
mess up
Type of:
disarray, disorder
bring disorder to

n a (large) military dining room where service personnel eat or relax

mess hall
officer's mess
a mess for the exclusive use of officers
Type of:
dining room, dining-room
a room used for dining

n a meal eaten in a mess hall by service personnel

Type of:
meal, repast
the food served and eaten at one time

v eat in a mess hall

Type of:
eat a meal; take a meal

n (often followed by `of') a large number or amount or extent

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
deluge, flood, inundation, torrent
an overwhelming number or amount
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

n soft semiliquid food

“a mess of porridge”
Type of:
aliment, alimentation, nourishment, nutriment, nutrition, sustenance, victuals
a source of materials to nourish the body

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