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1. To make a mistake. I'm worried that I messed up the last question on the test—it sounds like no one got the same answer as me.
2. To cause one to make a mistake. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "mess" and "up." I got all flustered when the boss walked in during my presentation—it totally messed me up!
3. To create chaos or disorder. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "mess" and "up." I'm sorry that there are toys all over—the kids really messed things up in here.
4. To damage or harm someone or something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "mess" and "up." If you don't regularly get your oil changed, you could really mess up your engine.
5. slang To physically strike someone, usually severely or repeatedly. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "mess" and "up." Stay away from that rival gang—those guys could really mess you up.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
mess someone up
Sl. to rough someone up; to beat someone up. The robbers threatened to mess Bob up if he didn't cooperate. John messed up Bill a little, but no real harm was done.
mess something up
to make something disorderly; to create disorder in something; to throw someone's plans awry. You really messed this place up! Who messed up my bed?
to make an error; to do something wrong; to flub up. I hope I don't mess up on the quiz. You really messed up and now you're in big trouble!
1. confused. I'm sort of messed up since my divorce. Most kids are sort of messed up at this age.
2. intoxicated. Somehow I must have got messed up. What caused it, do you think? Everybody at the party was too messed up to drive home.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Create disorder in; muddle or ruin. For example, On rainy days the children really mess up the house, or He had a way of messing up his own business. [c. 1900]
2. Make a mistake, especially from nervousness or confusion, as in He messed up and took the wrong dossier to the meeting, or Jill swore she would never mess up again. [Colloquial; early 1900s]
3. Beat up, manhandle, as in Joe got messed up in a barroom brawl. [Slang; early 1900s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To make a mistake, especially from nervousness or confusion: The runner scored because I messed up and dropped the ball.
2. To spoil something by making mistakes: I really messed up that chemistry test. That problem was difficult—I think I messed it up.
3. To cause someone or something to blunder or fail: I tried to pass the ball to the other player, but the loud shouting from the fans messed me up.
4. Slang To beat someone up; handle roughly: The bullies really messed up a couple of kids in a fight after school. If I told anyone what they did, they'd mess me up.
5. To cause something to be messy, tangled, or in disarray; muss something up: The kids messed up my hair, so I had to comb it all over again.
6. To injure, damage, or negatively interfere with something: Sitting in that uncomfortable chair really messed up my back. I messed my knee up when I fell down on the ice. Don't take those drugs; they will really mess you up.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
mess someone up
tv. to beat someone up. (Underworld.) The boss says me and the boys is supposed to mess you up a little.
in. to make an error; to do something wrong; to flub (up). I hope I don’t mess up on the quiz.
1. mod. confused. I’m sort of messed up since my divorce.
2. mod. alcohol or drug intoxicated. Somehow I must have got messed up. What caused it, do you think?
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.