See also: mess-up

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mess up (third-person singular simple present messes up, present participle messing up, simple past and past participle messed up)

  1. (transitive) To make a mess of; to untidy, disorder, soil, or muss.
    The afternoon breeze messed up my hair.
    • 1962, S. Schoeman, Strike!: A Handbook of Angling in South African Coastal Waters, page 58:
      [] kwatumas, those aggressive and sharp-toothed eels that so thoroughly mess up one's tackle when hooked []
  2. (transitive) To cause a problem with; to introduce an error or mistake in; to make muddled or confused; spoil; ruin.
    The change messed something up, and it's not working anymore.
  3. (transitive) To botch, bungle; to perform poorly on.
    Well, I messed up my solo, but otherwise it was a good concert.
  4. (intransitive) To make a mistake; to do something incorrectly; to perform poorly.
    He has a hard time getting started because he's afraid he'll mess up.
    She messed up on her final exam.
  5. (transitive) To cause (another person) to make unwanted mistakes in a given task, usually through distraction or obnoxious behavior.
    Stop bumping me! You keep messing me up!
  6. (transitive) To damage; injure.
    He messed up his elbow at the track meet.
  7. (transitive, slang) To manhandle; beat up; rough up.
    Her brother's friends messed him up a little after he cheated on her.
  8. (transitive, slang) To discombobulate, utterly confuse, or confound psychologically; to throw into a state of mental disarray.
    That girl totally messed me up, man. I'm not sure who I am anymore.

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