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Etymology 1[edit]

Middle English mes, Old French mets, Late Latin missum,, from mittere (to put, place) (e.g. on the table), Latin mittere (to send). See mission, and compare Mass (religious service).


mess (plural messes)

  1. (obsolete) Mass; church service.
  2. A quantity of food set on a table at one time; provision of food for a person or party for one meal; also, the food given to an animal at one time.
    A mess of pottage.
    • Milton
      At their savoury dinner set / Of herbs and other country messes.
  3. A number of persons who eat together, and for whom food is prepared in common; especially, persons in the military or naval service who eat at the same table.
    the wardroom mess
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  4. A set of four (from the old practice of dividing companies into sets of four at dinner).
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Latimer to this entry?)
  5. (US) The milk given by a cow at one milking.
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mess (third-person singular simple present messes, present participle messing, simple past and past participle messed)

  1. (intransitive) To take meals with a mess.
  2. (intransitive) To belong to a mess.
  3. (intransitive) To eat (with others).
    I mess with the wardroom officers.
  4. (transitive) To supply with a mess.

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Etymology 2[edit]

Perhaps a corruption of Middle English mesh (for mash), compare muss.


mess (uncountable)

  1. A disagreeable mixture or confusion of things; hence, a situation resulting from blundering or from misunderstanding; a disorder.
    He made a mess of it.
    My bedroom is such a mess, I need to tidy up.
  2. (colloquial) A large quantity or number.
    My boss dumped a whole mess of projects on my desk today.
    She brought back a mess of fish to fix for supper.
  3. (euphemistic) Excrement.
    There was dog mess all along the street.
    Parked under a tree, my car was soon covered in birds' mess.
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From Old Irish mes.



mess m (plural messyn)

  1. (botany) fruit

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