WOTW: mess

| - Tim Lake |

triplo word of the week - mess

“Mess” is a noun and verb. It has several meanings. We will look at the most common and a few common phrases. Let’s dive in:


The main meaning of the noun “mess” is dirty or untidy condition or place.


+ Her hair was a mess after being caught in the thunder storm.

+ Whenever I host a dinner the party, the kitchen is always a mess.

+ Your bedroom is a mess. Tidy it up!

+ His desk was a mess of papers and piles of books.

+ After traveling for two nights and three days on the train, I was a real mess.


The other meaning of the noun “mess” is more metaphorical. It means a problem that is confused and full of problems.


+ With COVID, the war and inflation, the economy is a mess.

+ Their relationship is a mess. One minute they are close, the next they are fighting.

+ Generally, if the government tries to plan everything centrally it ends up as a huge mess.

+ He was hired to sort out the mess at that company and make it profitable.


The verb “mess” has the same meaning as the noun. It means make untidy or dirty.


+ She ran her hand through my hair and messed it up further.

+ The humidity always messes my hair.

+ She spilt the food all over him messing his suit.

+ The ice storm has really messed up the roads.


The most common phrase is “make a mess” which means create a dirty or untidy state.


+ All the eggs broke and made a mess of my shopping bag.

+ He always leaves his clothes everywhere and makes a mess.

+ The kids love painting and making a mess, but the results are sometimes surprisingly good.


A useful phrasal verb with “mess” is “mess around”. It has a few meanings but the main one is do something in playful, silly or pleasantly aimless way.


+ We spent the afternoon messing around in boats.

+ The kids spent the whole summer playing in the woods and messing around in the garden.

+ Sometimes the best way to learn something is to spend some time messing around with it first and seeing what happens.


The pronunciation is /mɛs/.


This word is in the New General Service List, a list of the 3,000 most common words in English communication. You can get the full list on our website by clicking here.


この単語は、英語で最もよく使われる3,000の単語のリストであるNew General Service Listからのものです。完全なリストはこちらから。



061522-mess.pdf (95.4 KiB)