Etymology: First coined to describe a hot meal, the term’s sloppy connotations quickly morphed from food-related to figurative when it came to reference a chaotic yet appealing individual. Meaning: Stand-up comedian Amy Schumer has amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune through being a hot mess. Her ribald humor—which riffs on binge-drinking, body parts and bad sex—has established this identity as her shtick, so much so that billboards advertising her show, Inside Amy Schumer, were branded with the phrase. This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-Seven Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 42 Word: Hyperobject A word for things too huge to name. Arts & Culture Word: Negentropy A physicist’s fix for a messy home. Arts & Culture Issue 40 My Word In praise of cursing. Arts & Culture Issue 39 Word: Umarell The men who stare at construction sites. Arts & Culture Issue 38 Word: Hauntology The study of cultural ghosts. Arts & Culture Issue 36 Word: Frenemy Worst friends ever.