1 noun
1 DIRTY/UNTIDY (singular, uncountable) a situation in which a place looks very untidy or dirty, with things spread all around: Clean up this mess! | The house was an awful mess after the party. | make a mess: You can make cookies if you promise not to make a mess in the kitchen.
2 PROBLEMS/DIFFICULTIES (singular) informal a situation in which there are a lot of problems and difficulties, especially as a result of mistakes or carelessness: We have to sort this problem out - the whole thing's a mess. | You got us into this mess, Terry. You can get us out of it.
3 be in a mess to be very untidy or dirty, very disorganized or full of problems: The previous chairman had left the company in a terrible mess. | My life was in a real mess and I didn't know what to do.
4 make a mess of informal to do something badly and make a lot of mistakes: I made a complete mess of that test. | They've made such a mess of the economy.
5 a mess of AmE informal a lot of: The dress had a high neck with a mess of buttons coming down the back.
6 ARMY/NAVY (C) a room in which members of the army, navy etc eat and drink together
7 WASTE MATTER (C, U) informal especially BrE solid waste material from a baby or animal: The dog's made a mess on the carpet!
2 verb (I) to have meals in a room where members of the army, navy etc eat together mess around also mess about BrE phrasal verb informal
1 (I) to spend time lazily, doing things slowly and in a way that is not planned: He spent his vacation messing around on the farm.
2 (I) to behave in a silly way when you should be working or paying attention: Stop messing around and help me move this furniture.
3 (transitive mess someone around/about) to cause a lot of problems for someone, especially by changing your mind often or preventing them from getting what they want: Don't mess me about - I want the money you promised me.
mess around with also mess about with BrE phrasal verb (T) informal
1 to have a sexual relationship with someone that you should not have a sexual relationship with: She'd been messing around with another man.
2 to spend time playing with something, repairing it etc: Dave likes messing around with old cars.
mess up phrasal verb informal
1 (transitive mess something up) to spoil or ruin something, especially something important or something that has been carefully planned: It took me ages to get this right - I don't want some idiot to mess it up. | She felt she'd messed up her whole life.
2 (transitive mess something up) to make something dirty or untidy: Who messed up the kitchen?
3 (intransitive, transitive mess something up) to make a mistake and do something badly: It doesn't matter if you mess it up, you can always try again.
(+ on): I think I messed up on the last question. —see also: messed up, mess­up mess with phrasal verb (I, T) don't mess with spoken
a) used to warn someone not to annoy or argue with someone: Don't mess with me, buddy.
b) used to warn someone not to get involved with something that is dangerous or harmful: Don't mess with illegal drugs. Just say no!

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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