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 jokes.
- He had a head to contrive, a tongue to persuade, and a hand to execute any mischief.
- If the Government takes into its hands that which the man ought to do for himself it will inflict upon him greater mischiefs than all the benefits he will have received or all the advantages that would accrue from them. The essence of the whole thing is that the spirit of self-reliance, the spirit of true and genuine manly independence, should be preserved in the minds of the people, in the minds of the masses of the people, in the mind of every member of the class. If he loses his self-denial, if he learns to live in a craven dependence upon wealthier people rather than upon himself, you may depend upon it he incurs mischief for which no compensation can be made.
- William Ewart Gladstone, speech at the opening of the Reading and Recreation Rooms erected by the Saltney Literary Institute at Saltney in Chesire (26 October, 1889); reported in 'Mr. Gladstone On The Working Classes.', The Times (28 October, 1889), p. 8.
- It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922) 
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 517.
- In life it is difficult to say who do you the most mischief, enemies with the worst intentions, or friends with the best.
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton, What Will He Do With It? Bk. III, Heading to Ch. XVII.
- What plaguy mischief and mishaps
Do dog him still with after claps!
- Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto III, line 3.
- Let them call it mischief:
When it is past and prospered 'twill be virtue.
- Ben Jonson, Catiline, Act III, scene 3.
- When to mischief mortals bend their will,
How soon they find it instruments of ill.
- Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock (1712), Canto III, stanza 125.
- Now let it work: Mischief, thou art afoot,
Take thou what course thou wilt.
- To mourn a mischief that is past and gone
Is the next way to draw new mischief on.
- O mischief, thou art swift
To enter in the thoughts of desperate men!
The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904) 
- Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 175-176.
- Certainty is the mother of quiet, which is the end of the law, and tho' it falls out that some particular cases may light very hard, yet better that mischief than an inconvenience.
- Pollexfen, C.J., Bolton v. Canham (1672), Pollexfen's Rep. 131; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 175-176.
- Certainty is the mother of repose, and therefore the common law aims at certainty.
- Lord Hardwicke, L.C., Walton v. Tryon (1753), 1 Dick. 245.
- The policy of the law of England, and indeed the true principles of all government, will rather suffer many private inconveniences, than introduce one public mischief.
- Wright, J., Sir John Wedderburn's Case (1746), Foster's Cr. Cas. 29.
- It is a general rule of Judgment, that a mischief should rather be admitted than an inconvenience.
- William Cowper, 1st Earl Cowper, L.C., Devit v. College of Dublin (1720), Gilbert Eq. Ca. 249.
- And the law says, better is a mischief than an inconvenience. By a mischief is meant, when one man or some few men suffer by the hardship of a law, which law is yet useful for the public. But an inconvenience is to have a public law disobeyed or broken, or an offence to go unpunished.
- Sir Robert Athyns, L.C.B., Trial of Sir Edward Hales (1686), 11 How. St. Tr. 1208.
- As the sun arising in the horizon shews not the figure so clear, as when it is beholden in the meridian; so by mixing many impertinences with the case in judgment, it hath been apprehended to be of a far tenderer consequence than indeed it is: yet tender and weighty it is.
- Finch, L.C.J., Hampden's Case (1637), 3 How. St. Tr. 1217.
- It is impossible for the Court to foresee when a sentence begins how it will end, and, sometimes, mischief is done before we are sure that the sentence will conclude in an offensive manner.
- Lord Kenyon, Williams' Case (1797), 26 How. St. Tr. 709; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 18.