Definition of mischief in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmɪstʃɪf/


[mass noun]
1Playful misbehaviour, especially on the part of children: she’ll make sure Danny doesn’t get into mischief
More example sentences
  • ‘David was always up to mischief with his mates,’ Tracy said.
  • I can't understand why people don't want this thing when the children are so bored and get up to mischief.
  • A group of youngsters are up to mischief in a local wood when they decide to go in search of a derelict house where, according to local legend, a weird old witch used to live.
naughtiness, badness, bad behaviour, misbehaviour, mischievousness, misconduct, misdemeanour, perversity, disobedience, pranks, tricks, larks, capers, nonsense, roguery, devilry, funny business;
French diablerie
informal monkey tricks, monkey business, shenanigans, goings-on, hanky-panky
British informal carry-on, carryings-on, jiggery-pokery
archaic deviltry
impishness, roguishness, devilment
rare rascality
1.1Playfulness that is intended to tease or create trouble: her eyes twinkled with irrepressible mischief
More example sentences
  • She rubbed my arm comfortingly with a small twinkle of mischief that I had seen somewhere else.
  • Abby smirked, pure mischief dancing in her eyes.
  • There was a slight mischief in her eyes and a smirk on his lips.
2Harm or trouble caused by someone or something: she was bent on making mischief
More example sentences
  • The idea was to entice teenagers off the streets on Saturdays when they might be making mischief, but Sonja never imagined how successful it would be.
  • The former group are intent on making mischief, the latter on making meaning out of an event which still has none.
  • Such a thing can cause huge mischief, when these contradictory streams collide.
harm, hurt, an injury;
impairment, damage, detriment, ill, trouble
2.1 [count noun] archaic A person responsible for harm or annoyance.
Example sentences
  • What a mischief was that boy who trespassed behind the stage and over it only to slip and use her to break his fall.
3 Law A wrong or hardship that a statute is designed to remove or for which the common law affords a remedy: the statute was passed to prevent a mischief in respect of which the defendant was already under a duty at common law
More example sentences
  • This mischief has now been remedied by section 51 of the Supreme Court Act 1981.
  • The mischief that section 42 is designed to prevent is repeated litigation against the same person on the same issue.
  • It seems to come to this: what is a situation where the statute that is then enacted upon its proper construction happens to go beyond remedying the mischief?


do someone (or oneself) a mischief

British informal Injure someone or oneself: I would have done myself a mischief if I’d carried on
More example sentences
  • She leapt out of her stretch position without doing herself a mischief that would be regretted later, and called the story in to the news desk.
  • For God's sake, calm down before you do yourself a mischief!
  • ‘Steady on,’ said a male voice from within, ‘you'll do yourself a mischief.’


Late Middle English (denoting misfortune or distress): from Old French meschief, from the verb meschever, from mes- 'adversely' + chever 'come to an end' (from chef 'head').

  • In early examples, mischief denoted ‘misfortune’ or ‘distress’. It came from Old French meschever ‘come to an unfortunate end’, based on chef ‘head’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: mis|chief

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