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mess with (someone or something)
1. To change, fiddle, or play with something, often without permission to do so. My tools are not toys—please do not mess with them. Hey, don't mess with the thermostat—it needs to stay at 65 degrees.
2. To clash with someone or something. That group of boys is dangerous—don't mess with them.
3. To tease or mock someone. Sarah's a very sensitive kid, so don't mess with her.
4. To confuse or puzzle someone. One minute he's flirting with me, and the next, he's completely disinterested. His mixed signals are totally messing with my head!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
mess with someone or somethingand monkey with someone or something
to bother or interfere with someone or something. Come on, don't monkey with my new camera. Don't mess with me unless you want trouble.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Interfere or associate with; also, annoy, bother. For example, Our group won't mess with those street musicians, or I told him not to mess with me or there would be trouble. [Colloquial; c. 1900]
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 alter something improperly: Don't mess with the arrangement of the chairs—they're all set up for the meeting.
2. To deceive or confuse someone or something: The horrible accident really messed with my head.
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.