hot mess

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Etymology 1[edit]

hot(warm) + mess(meal; soldiers who eat together).


hot mess (countable and uncountable, plural hot messes)

  1. (military) A warm meal, usually cooked in a large pot, often similar to a stew or porridge; service of such a heated meal to soldiers.
    • 1856, Frederick Marryat, Snarleyyow, or the Dog Fiend, page 10
      "Smallbones," said the lieutenant, after trying the hot mess before him, and finding that he was still in danger of burning his mouth, "bring me the red-herring."
    • 1919, James Thayer Addison, The Story of the First Gas Regiment, page 150
      I heard several of the enlisted men make the statement that Company C had provided hot mess for fully a thousand men of other units during the second day of the recent drive in and around Cheppy and Charpentry.
    • 1974, Langdon Sully, No Tears for the General: The Life of Alfred Sully, 1821-1879, page 119
      He provided for a hot mess and he got the men up off the floor with improvised bunks.
    • 1980, William Manchester, Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War, page 260
      The men there would have settled for a Coleman stove and a hot-mess line, but the greatest contribution to their spirits, plus or minus, was mail call.

Etymology 2[edit]

hot(uncomfortable) (sense 1) or hot(attractive) (sense 2) + mess(disarray).


hot mess (plural hot messes)

  1. (slang, idiomatic, chiefly Southern US) A situation or object in a state of extreme disarray.
  2. (slang, idiomatic, chiefly Southern US) A disheveled or unbalanced person, particularly one who is nevertheless — or therefore — attractive.
    • 2003, Karyn Bosnak, Save Karyn: One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back, page 271:
      My hair had two months of roots exposed. My brows were overgrown. I was a hot mess. And I was fat.
    • 2005, Desiree Day, Crazy Love, page 72:
      "Girl, you're a hot mess, but we're cool," she assured her, but her next words were a warning. "But you really need to stop blurting out the first thing that comes to your mind..."
    • 2009, Cobra Starship, Hot Mess (song on the album Hot Mess):
      Well, you're a hot mess and I'm falling for you, and I'm like hot damn, let me make you my boo, [] You're a hot mess, I'm loving it, hell yes!