Definition of mischievous in US English:



  • 1(of a person, animal, or their behavior) causing or showing a fondness for causing trouble in a playful way.

    ‘two mischievous kittens had decorated the bed with shredded newspaper’
    • ‘I am not being mischievous, but just stating the facts as I see them.’
    • ‘She smiled at the mussed blonde hair and the cute, slightly mischievous look on Adrian's face.’
    • ‘A council has waged war on mischievous Halloween youngsters by banning children from buying eggs, it emerged today.’
    • ‘The two boys looked at each other, and a little mischievous grin developed between them.’
    • ‘He phoned a pal who told him to try to ease the mischievous kitten from under the machine using cooking oil.’
    • ‘Kyle looked a bit upset but Jonathan just got a mischievous look on his face.’
    • ‘Me, I love my nephew to death, but I think he needs to be a bit more mischievous.’
    • ‘His dark brown eyes had the same mischievous glint.’
    • ‘This politician is charming and likeable but carries the air of a bit of a mischievous rogue.’
    • ‘He gave her a little mischievous smile and returned his attention back to the teacher.’
    • ‘I could see that same mischievous glint in his eyes which was once a part of his personality.’
    • ‘She almost believed him until she saw the mischievous gleam in his brown eyes.’
    • ‘Barry grins back, a natural expression that makes him look mischievous.’
    • ‘Sam shook his head, and a slightly mischievous smile appeared on his face.’
    • ‘Byron was shoved out of the way rather forcefully by two identical twins with very mischievous grins.’
    • ‘Sure he was a bit mischievous, but so was she.’
    • ‘I can be playful, mischievous, or silly depending on how you look at things.’
    • ‘His mother keeps a careful eye on the youngster to stop him being mischievous.’
    • ‘You never saw two siblings that were more mischievous.’
    • ‘I turned back to Chase and gave him a little mischievous smile.’
    naughty, bad, badly behaved, misbehaving, disobedient, troublesome, vexatious, full of mischief
    playful, teasing, wicked, impish, puckish, roguish, waggish, arch
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    1. 1.1 (of an action or thing) causing or intended to cause harm or trouble.
      ‘a mischievous allegation for which there is not a shred of evidence’
      • ‘Can anyone direct us to where these mischievous articles have appeared?’
      • ‘He gave a mischievous response when asked if he will continue to speak his mind if he feels circumstances demand that.’
      • ‘This practice of profiling is mischievous and harmful to a tolerant and developing society.’
      • ‘He is always doing something mischievous and looks guilty at all times.’
      • ‘He simply cannot understand how reasonable people allow such a mischievous system to endure.’
      • ‘At some point, the paper will do something mischievous that prompts questions to be asked of its management.’
      malicious, malevolent, hostile, spiteful, bitter, venomous, poisonous, evil-intentioned, ill-natured, evil, baleful, vindictive, vengeful, vitriolic, rancorous, malign, malignant, pernicious, mean, nasty, harmful, hurtful, destructive, wounding, cruel, unkind, defamatory
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Mischievous is a three-syllable word. Take care not to use this incorrect four-syllable pronunciation: /misˈCHēvēəs/


Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French meschevous, from Old French meschever ‘come to an unfortunate end’ (see mischief). The early sense was ‘unfortunate or calamitous’, later ‘having harmful effects’; the sense ‘playfully troublesome’ dates from the late 17th century.