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Related to mischief: Mischief night


1. Behavior that causes annoyance or difficulty: tried to keep the kids from engaging in any mischief.
a. Damage, destruction, or injury caused by a specific person or thing: the mischief done by a faulty gene.
b. Archaic A specific injury or harm done: "Instead of doing them a service, you meant to do them a mischief?" (Charles Dickens).
3. The inclination or tendency to play pranks or get into trouble: eyes that gleamed with mischief.

[Middle English mischef, from Old French meschief, misfortune, from meschever, to end badly : mes-, badly; see mis-1 + 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).]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. wayward but not malicious behaviour, usually of children, that causes trouble, irritation, etc
2. a playful inclination to behave in this way or to tease or disturb
3. injury or harm caused by a person or thing
4. a person, esp a child, who is mischievous
5. a source of trouble, difficulty, etc: floods are a great mischief to the farmer.
[C13: from Old French meschief disaster, from meschever to meet with calamity; from mes- mis-1 + chever to reach an end, from chef end, chief]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈmɪs tʃɪf)

1. conduct or activity that causes petty annoyance.
2. a tendency to tease or annoy.
3. harm or trouble: to come to mischief.
4. an injury or evil caused by a person or thing.
5. a cause or source of harm, evil, or annoyance.
[1250–1300; < Old French, n. derivative of meschever to end badly. See mis-1, achieve]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



cut a dido To play clever pranks; to fool around or cavort about; to take part in monkey business; to cut a caper. An entertaining story which is held by some to be the origin of this expression concerns the mythical queen Dido, who founded the African city of Carthage. She obtained the land by the clever ploy of paying for only as much land as could be enclosed with a bull’s hide. That amount, however, exceeded the seller’s expectations when Dido cut the hide into thin strips and proceeded to encircle enough land to found the new city. Dido ‘prank or caper’ can stand alone; the U.S. slang cut a dido dates from at least as early as the beginning of the 19th century.

A jolly Irishman, who cut as many didos as I could for the life of me. (J. R. Shaw, Life, 1807)

gremlin A mythical being fancied to be the cause of aircraft troubles; the personification of other inexplicable mishaps. This term, possibly derived from “goblin,” was originally used by England’s Royal Air Force in World War II. Its various meanings are discussed in the following citation:

Gremlins are mythical creatures who are supposed to cause trouble such as engine failures in aeroplanes, a curious piece of whimsy-whamsy in an activity so severely practical as flying. Now the gremlin seems to be extending its sphere of operations, so that the term can be applied to almost anything that inexplicably goes wrong in human affairs. (American Speech XIX, 1944)

hanky-panky Monkey business, shenanigans, mischief; any illegal or unethical goings-on; colloquially often used for philandering or adultery. The current British sense of this term ‘legerdemain, jugglery, sleight of hand’ was apparently the original meaning of hanky-panky, thought to be related to the similar rhyming compound hocus-pocus or its variant hokey-pokey. The expression dates from at least 1841.

monkey around To fool around; to waste time or loaf; to engage in aimless activities; also monkey around with, to tinker or play with something, usually out of curiosity; to interfere with; to tamper with. This expression and its alternative, monkey about, allude to the playful behavior and curiosity associated with monkeys.

I don’t see how you fellows have time to monkey around here. (Rudyard Kipling and Wolcott Balestier, The Naulahka: A Story of West and East, 1891)
Any attempt to “monkey about” with the powers or composition of the Upper House would destroy the balance of the constitution. (Times, June 27, 1955)

monkey business Improper, unethical, or deceitful conduct or dealings; shenanigans, pranks, or mischief; hanky-panky. This expression refers to the frisky and often unpredictable behavior associated with monkeys.

Because I’ve seen her talking with one of the neighbors isn’t to say there was any monkey business between them. (H. Carmichael, Naked to the Grave, 1972)

“Monkey Business,” the title of a 1931 movie, aptly described the zany antics of its stars, the Marx brothers.

monkeyshines Shenanigans, tomfoolery, high jinks; horseplay, monkey business; pranks, practical jokes. This term combines the informal meaning of shine ‘foolish prank’ with an allusion to the frolicsome antics often associated with monkeys.

Why all the monkeyshines to get rid of Lucy? He’d been divorced before and he could be divorced again. (H. Howard, Highway to Murder, 1973)

A related expression, cut up monkey-shines ‘to behave in a mischievous or frolicksome manner,’ gave rise to other variations such as cut monkeyshines, cut shines, and cut up.

People recognizing you and staring at you cutting up monkeyshines. (Sinclair Lewis, Cass Timberlane, 1945)

Peck’s bad boy A mischievous child. This affectionate epithet for a naughty child derives from the main character in Peck’s Bad Boy and His Pa, a book written in 1883 by George W. Peck.

play the devil To act in a mischievous way; or, more seriously, to act diabolically, in a destructive and harmful manner. This expression dates from the mid-16th century.

Your firm and determined intention … to play the very devil with everything and everybody. (Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, 1838)

play the goat To behave foolishly, to act in an irresponsible, uncontrolled manner. Goat has traditionally connoted a wide range of human folly or vice, with meanings ranging from ‘butt’ to ‘lecher.’ This colloquial expression dates from the 1800s. Variants include play the giddy goat and act the goat.

You’ll find some o’ the youngsters play the goat a good deal when they come out o’ stable. (Rudyard Kipling, From Sea to Sea, 1887)

when the cat’s away the mice will play Subordinates will always take advantage of the absence of one in authority. This still common saying appeared in John Ray’s Collection of Proverbs in the 17th century. It is based on a pessimistic view of human nature, one holding that external constraints are needed to insure proper behavior.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.mischief - reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in othersmischief - reckless or malicious behavior that causes discomfort or annoyance in others
misbehavior, misbehaviour, misdeed - improper or wicked or immoral behavior
blaze, hell - noisy and unrestrained mischief; "raising blazes"
monkey business - mischievous or deceitful behavior
hooliganism, malicious mischief, vandalism - willful wanton and malicious destruction of the property of others
2.mischief - the quality or nature of being harmful or evilmischief - the quality or nature of being harmful or evil
evilness, evil - the quality of being morally wrong in principle or practice; "attempts to explain the origin of evil in the world"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. misbehaviour, trouble, naughtiness, pranks, shenanigans (informal), monkey business (informal), waywardness, devilment, impishness, roguishness, roguery The little lad was always up to some mischief.
2. harm, trouble, damage, injury, hurt, evil, disadvantage, disruption, misfortune, detriment The conference was a platform to cause political mischief.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


1. Annoying yet harmless, usually playful acts:
Informal: shenanigan (often used in plural).
2. One who causes minor trouble or damage:
Informal: cutup.
3. The action or result of inflicting loss or pain:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
شَر، سوءشَيْطَنَةٌضَرَر، أذى
drumsti ramybępiktadarybėpiktas pokštas
trò tinh quái


[ˈmɪstʃɪf] N
1. (= naughtiness) → travesura f, diablura f
he's up to some mischiefestá haciendo alguna travesura
he's always getting into mischiefsiempre anda haciendo travesuras
keep out of mischief! (to child) → ¡no hagas travesuras!; (to adult) (hum) → ¡pórtate bien!
to keep sb out of mischiefevitar que algn haga travesuras
2. (= harm) → daño m
to do o.s. a mischiefhacerse daño
3. (= malicious behaviour) to make mischiefcausar daño
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈmɪstʃɪf] n
(= naughtiness) [young child] → bêtises fpl
My little sister's always up to mischief → Ma petite sœur fait constamment des bêtises.
to get up to mischief [child] → faire des bêtises; [teenager] → faire des bêtises
(= harm) → mal m
to do mischief → faire du mal
old attitudes and prejudices which have done so much mischief → les vieilles attitudes et les préjugés qui ont fait tant de mal
to do o.s. a mischief (= hurt oneself) → se faire mal
(= maliciousness) → malice f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(= roguery)Schalk m, → Verschmitztheit f; (= naughty, foolish behaviour)Unsinn m, → Unfug m; she’s full of mischiefsie hat nur Unfug im Kopf; he’s up to mischiefer führt etwas im Schilde; he’s always getting into mischiefer stellt dauernd etwas an; to keep somebody out of mischiefaufpassen, dass jd keine Dummheiten macht; to keep out of mischiefkeinen Unfug machen; that’ll keep you out of mischiefdann kannst du wenigstens nichts anstellen, dann kommst du wenigstens auf keine dummen Gedanken
(= trouble) to cause or make mischiefUnfrieden stiften; to make mischief for somebodyjdm Unannehmlichkeiten bereiten, jdn in Schwierigkeiten bringen
(= damage, physical injury)Schaden m; to do somebody/oneself a mischiefjdm/sich Schaden zufügen; (physically) → jdm/sich etwas (an)tun; to do mischief to somethingSchaden bei etw anrichten
(= person)Schlawiner m; (= child, puppy)Racker m
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈmɪstʃɪf] n (roguishness) → furberia; (naughtiness) → birichinate fpl; (maliciousness) → cattiveria, malizia; (harm) → male m, danno
he's always getting into mischief → ne combina sempre una
to keep sb out of mischief → tenere qn occupato/a così che non possa combinare guai
full of mischief → birichino/a
to make mischief (for sb) → rendere la vita difficile (a qn)
to make mischief between → seminare zizzania tra
to do o.s. a mischief (Brit) (hum) → farsi male
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈmistʃif) noun
1. action or behaviour (especially of children) that causes small troubles or annoyance to others. That boy is always up to some mischief.
2. evil, damage or harm.
make mischief
to cause trouble etc.
ˈmischievous (-vəs) adjective
a mischievous child.
ˈmischievously adverb
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


شَيْطَنَةٌ uličnictví spilopper Unfug σκανταλιά travesura kujeilu espièglerie nepodopština birichinata いたずら 장난기 streken bakken rampestreker psota travessura озорство rackartyg การก่อกวน yaramazlık trò tinh quái 恶作剧
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009
References in classic literature ?
Mischief will come of it -- Mischief to Michael Vanstone -- which is of no earthly consequence: mischief to Me -- which is a truly serious matter.
Secondly, how the particular motions of anger may be repressed, or at least refrained from doing mischief. Thirdly, how to raise anger, or appease anger in another.
My friends, mend me this mischief, for you can if you will.'
Their mother, catching them at these pranks, began reminding them in Levin's presence of the trouble their mischief gave to the grown-up people, and that this trouble was all for their sake, and that if they smashed the cups they would have nothing to drink their tea out of, and that if they wasted the milk, they would have nothing to eat, and die of hunger.
This little piece of mischief, how she used to make us laugh the day long!
"And meanwhile," Thomson retorted bitterly, "leave him a free hand to do what mischief he can.
25-41) Perses, lay up these things in your heart, and do not let that Strife who delights in mischief hold your heart back from work, while you peep and peer and listen to the wrangles of the court-house.
One of the Spaniards who was by, seeing him give the fellow a barbarous cut with the hatchet, which he aimed at his head, but stuck into his shoulder, so that he thought he had cut the poor creature's arm off, ran to him, and entreating him not to murder the poor man, placed himself between him and the savage, to prevent the mischief. The fellow, being enraged the more at this, struck at the Spaniard with his hatchet, and swore he would serve him as he intended to serve the savage; which the Spaniard perceiving, avoided the blow, and with a shovel, which he had in his hand (for they were all working in the field about their corn land), knocked the brute down.
He then condemned the work of Jupiter, because he had not placed the heart of man on the outside, that everyone might read the thoughts of the evil disposed and take precautions against the intended mischief. And, lastly, he inveighed against Minerva because she had not contrived iron wheels in the foundation of her house, so its inhabitants might more easily remove if a neighbor proved unpleasant.
A HURLED-BACK Allegation, which, after a brief rest, had again started forth upon its mission of mischief, met an Ink-stand in mid-air.
The same day on which this attempt was made, the Indians divided themselves into different parties, and attacked several forts, which were shortly before this time erected, doing a great deal of mischief. This was extremely distressing to the new settlers.
There is no knowing what further mischief she might have done had not York promptly sat himself down flat on her head to prevent her struggling, at the same time calling out, "Unbuckle the black horse!