mess around with something mess about with something
mess around with (someone or something)
1. To tinker or fiddle with something. Hey, don't mess around with the thermostat—it needs to stay at 68 degrees. Grandpa's still messing around with that old radio, but I doubt he'll get it to work again.
2. To test or use something in order to learn more about it. I'm messing around with a different platform for my blog, and I can't decide if I like it or not.
3. To engage in aimless recreation or frivolous time-wasting with someone or something; to fool around with someone or something. Quit messing around with the dog and work on your book report already, Scotty!
4. To tease or play a prank on someone, often by trying to get them to believe something that is not true. Come on, stop messing around with me. There's no such thing as ghosts.
5. To engage in casual sex acts with someone. Betsy and I are just messing around with each other, which is great because I don't want a serious relationship anyway.
mess around (with something) mess about (with something)and monkey around (with something)
in. to play with or fiddle with something. You’ll break it if you don’t stop monkeying around with it.