mischief (n.) c.1300, "evil condition, misfortune, need, want," from O.Fr. meschief "misfortune, harm, trouble; annoyance, vexation" (12c., Mod.Fr. méchef), verbal noun from meschever "come or bring to grief, be unfortunate" (opposite of achieve), from mes- "badly" (see MIS- (Cf. mis-) (2)) + chever "happen, come to a head," from V.L. *capare "head," from L. caput "head" (see HEAD (Cf. head)). Meaning "harm or evil considered as the work of some agent or due to some cause" is from late 15c. Sense of "playful malice" first recorded 1784.
Mischief Night in 19c. England was the eve of May Day and of Nov. 5, both major holidays, and perhaps the original point was pilfering for the next day's celebration and bonfire; but in Yorkshire, Scotland, and Ireland the night was Halloween. The useful Middle English verb mischieve (early 14c.) has, for some reason, fallen from currency.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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  • mischief — I noun annoyance, criminality, cruelty, damage, damnum, danger, detriment, devilment, deviltry, disservice, evil, evil conduct, fault, foul play, frolicsomeness, harm, harmful action, hurt, ill consequence, impishness, incommodum, infliction,… …   Law dictionary

  • Mischief — Mis chief (m[i^]s ch[i^]f), n. [OE. meschef bad result, OF. meschief; pref. mes (L. minus less) + chief end, head, F. chef chief. See {Minus}, and {Chief}.] [1913 Webster] 1. Harm; damage; esp., disarrangement of order; trouble or vexation caused …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mischief — ► NOUN 1) playful misbehaviour. 2) harm or injury caused by someone or something. ● do someone a mischief Cf. ↑do someone a mischief ORIGIN Old French meschief, from meschever come to an unfortunate end …   English terms dictionary

  • Mischief — Mis chief, v. t. To do harm to. [Obs.] Milton. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mischief — *injury, hurt, damage, harm Analogous words: perniciousness, detrimentalness or detriment, deleteriousness, noxiousness, banefulness or bane (see corresponding adjectives at PERNICIOUS): *evil, ill: impairment, marring, spoiling (see… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • mischief — [n] trouble, damage atrocity, catastrophe, devilment, devilry, dirty trick*, evil, fault, friskiness, frolicsomeness, funny business*, gag, harm, high jinks*, hurt, ill, impishness, injury, misbehavior, mischievousness, misconduct, misdoing,… …   New thesaurus

  • mischief — [mis′chif] n. [ME meschief < OFr < meschever, to come to grief < mes (see MIS 1) + chever, come to a head < chief, end, head (see CHIEF)] 1. harm, damage, or injury, esp. that done by a person 2. a cause or source of harm, damage, or… …   English World dictionary

  • Mischief — For other uses, see Mischief (disambiguation). H. Brückner, Mischief (1874) Mischief is a vexatious or annoying action, or, conduct or activity that playfully causes petty annoyance. Young children, when they hear of mischief, think of practical… …   Wikipedia

  • mischief — n. 1) to cause, do, make mischief 2) to be up to, get into mischief 3) malicious mischief 4) out of mischief (to stay out of mischief; to keep children out of mischief) 5) full of mischief 6) up to mischief * * * [ mɪstʃɪf] do get into mischief… …   Combinatory dictionary

  • mischief — mis|chief [ mıstʃıf ] noun uncount behavior or play, especially of children, that causes trouble but not serious harm to other people: be up to/get up to mischief (=do something bad): The boys are always up to some kind of mischief! get into… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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