mess up /ˈmɛs ˈʌp/ verb
1 : to make a mistake : to do something incorrectly
- About halfway into the recipe, I realized that I had messed up, and I had to start over.
— often followed by on
- She’s afraid she’ll mess up on the test.
- I messed up on my first attempt.
2 a mess something up or mess up something : to make mistakes when you are doing or making (something)
2 b mess something up or mess up something : to make (something) dirty or untidy : to make a mess of (something)
- Don’t mess up my room
- The wind messed up her hair.
2 c mess something up or mess up something : to damage or ruin something
- She’s really messed up her life
- His life has been messed up by his drug addiction.
3: to damage or change something so that it does not work properly
- I don’t know what I did, but I somehow messed up the computer.
- My watch has been messed up ever since I dropped it in the sink.
- The mountains messed up the cell phone signal.
4 a mess someone up or mess up someone : to beat and injure someone
- He got messed up by a gang of bullies.
- They messed him up pretty badly.
4 b mess someone up or mess up someone : to make someone very upset and unhappy
- Breaking up with her boyfriend has really messed her up.
- She’s been pretty messed up ever since she broke up with her boyfriend.