Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Behavior that causes annoyance or difficulty:
  • noun Damage, destruction, or injury caused by a specific person or thing.
  • noun Archaic A specific injury or harm done.
  • noun The inclination or tendency to play pranks or get into trouble.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To hurt; harm; ruin.
  • To come to harm or misfortune; miscarry.
  • noun A harmful or troublesome event, circumstance, or contingency; an action or occurrence attended with evil or vexation; an annoying, frustrating, or hurtful state or condition of things; misfortune; calamity: used with much latitude of application: as, some one is making mischief; the mischief is that he cannot keep his temper.
  • noun The act, state, course, or disposition of causing annoyance, trouble, or harm; vexatious or injurious operation or tendency; the working of damage or disaster: as, the clouds bode mischief; what mischief is he up to now? often used in a kindly or playful sense, or for affectionate excuse: as, the lad is full of mischief, but not vicious.
  • noun One who or that which does harm or causes injury or vexation; a source of trouble or annoyance: as, that child is a mischief.
  • noun Annoyance, injury, or damage caused or produced; harm; hurt: as, to do mischief; irremediable mischief: now never used in the plural.
  • noun The devil. [Colloq.]
  • noun Synonyms Damage, Harm, etc. See injury.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To do harm to.
  • noun Harm; damage; esp., disarrangement of order; trouble or vexation caused by human agency or by some living being, intentionally or not; often, calamity, mishap; trivial evil caused by thoughtlessness, or in sport.
  • noun Cause of trouble or vexation; trouble.
  • noun to be doing harm or causing annoyance.
  • noun to do mischief, especially by exciting quarrels.
  • noun [Colloq.] to cause great harm; to throw into confusion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Harm or evil caused by an agent or brought about by a particular cause.
  • noun One who causes mischief. In a milder sense, one who causes petty annoyances. mischief-maker.
  • noun Vexatious or annoying conduct.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in others
  • noun the quality or nature of being harmful or evil

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English mischef, from Old French meschief, misfortune, from meschever, to end badly : mes-, badly; see mis– + chever, to happen, come to an end (from Vulgar Latin *capāre, to come to a head, from *capum, head, from Latin caput; see kaput- in Indo-European roots).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English, from Old French, meschief, from meschever ("to bring to grief"), from mes- ("badly") + chever ("happen", "come to a head"), from Vulgar Latin *capare, from Latin caput ("head")

Examples

  • I. v.51 (423, 6) You wait on nature's mischief!] _Nature's mischief_ is mischief done to nature, violation of nature's order committed by wickedness.

    Notes to Shakespeare, Volume III: The Tragedies

  • Sometimes the things he did in the house were what we call mischief because they annoy us, such as hammering the woodwork to pieces, tearing bits out of the leaves of books, working holes in chair seats, or pounding a cardboard box to pieces.

    Types of Children's Literature

  • Sometimes the things he did in the house were what we call mischief because they annoy us, such as hammering the woodwork to pieces, tearing bits out of the leaves of books, working holes in chair seats, or pounding a cardboard box to pieces.

    Good Stories for Holidays

  • Sometimes the things he did in the house were what we call mischief because they annoy us, such as hammering the woodwork to pieces, tearing bits out of the leaves of books, working holes in chair seats, or pounding a cardboard box to pieces.

    Good Stories for Great Holidays

  • The one compensation for all this mischief is the rich additions to the apologetical and critical literature of the books of the New Testament, and the earliest history of the Christian Church, which it has drawn from the pens of Thiersch, Ebrard, and many others.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

  • And there was more yet of what we call mischief brewing in another quarter to like hurt.

    What's Mine's Mine — Complete

  • And there was more yet of what we call mischief brewing in another quarter to like hurt.

    What's Mine's Mine — Volume 2

  • And the mischief is the greater, and the ground the more cumbered, if it be a high, large, spreading tree, and if it be an old tree of long standing.

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume V (Matthew to John)

  • His barrister, John Kelsey-Fry QC, suggested his client was not alone in creating what he described as "mischief" in the egg industry.

    The Guardian World News

  • What's your evidence that "mischief" is more rife in neuroscience than in physics?

    The Memory Hole

Comments

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  • Etymology back to caput!

    February 20, 2018