verb \ˈmēn\

: to have (a particular meaning)

: to want or intend to express (a particular idea or meaning)

: to have (something) in your mind as a purpose or goal

meant \ˈment\ mean·ing \ˈmē-niŋ\

Full Definition of MEAN

transitive verb
a :  to have in the mind as a purpose :  intend <she means to win> —sometimes used interjectionally with I, chiefly in informal speech for emphasis <he throws, I mean, hard> or to introduce a phrase restating the point of a preceding phrase <we try to answer what we can, but I mean we're not God — Bobbie Ann Mason>
b :  to design for or destine to a specified purpose or future <I was meant to teach>
:  to serve or intend to convey, show, or indicate :  signify <a red sky means rain>
:  to have importance to the degree of <health means everything>
:  to direct to a particular individual
intransitive verb
:  to have an intended purpose <he means well>
mean·er \ˈmē-nər\ noun
mean business
:  to be in earnest

Examples of MEAN

  1. The word meant one thing in Shakespeare's day, but it means something else now.
  2. Red means stop and green means go.
  3. Can you tell me what my dream means?
  4. What was meant by the poet?
  5. Don't distort what she meant by taking her words out of context.
  6. He's very ambitious, and I mean that as a compliment.
  7. It's a very easy question. Anyone, and I mean anyone, should be able to answer it.
  8. She's not getting any thinner, if you know what I mean.
  9. She says she didn't mean anything by what she did.
  10. I don't trust him. He means no good.
  11. The season of backyard barbecues and lakeside cookouts is at hand, which in most parts of the country means an orgy of grilled steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs lasting until Labor Day and beyond. —R. W. Apple, Jr., New York Times, 5 June 2002

Origin of MEAN

Middle English menen, from Old English ̄nan; akin to Old High German meinen to have in mind, Old Church Slavic měniti to mention
First Known Use: before 12th century


adjective \ˈmēn\

Definition of MEAN

:  lacking distinction or eminence :  humble
:  lacking in mental discrimination :  dull
a :  of poor shabby inferior quality or status <mean city streets>
b :  worthy of little regard :  contemptible —often used in negative constructions as a term of praise <no mean feat>
:  lacking dignity or honor :  base
a :  penurious, stingy
b :  characterized by petty selfishness or malice
c :  causing trouble or bother :  vexatious
d :  excellent, effective <plays a mean trumpet> <a lean, mean athlete>
:  ashamed 1b
mean·ness \ˈmēn-nəs\ noun

Examples of MEAN

  1. For thirty years he had been a ruthless litigator, the meanest, nastiest, and without a doubt one of the most effective courtroom brawlers in Chicago. —John Grisham, The Chamber, 1995

Origin of MEAN

Middle English mene, from imene common, shared, from Old English gemǣne; akin to Old High German gimeini common, Latin communis common, munus service, gift, Sanskrit mayate he exchanges
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of MEAN

mean, ignoble, abject, sordid mean being below the normal standards of human decency and dignity. mean suggests small-mindedness, ill temper, or cupidity <mean and petty satire>. ignoble suggests a loss or lack of some essential high quality of mind or spirit <an ignoble scramble after material possessions>. abject may imply degradation, debasement, or servility <abject poverty>. sordid is stronger than all of these in stressing physical or spiritual degradation and abjectness <a sordid story of murder and revenge>.


adjective \ˈmēn\

Definition of MEAN

:  occupying a middle position :  intermediate in space, order, time, kind, or degree
:  occupying a position about midway between extremes; especially :  being the mean (see 4mean) of a set of values :  average <the mean temperature>
:  serving as a means :  intermediary

Origin of MEAN

Middle English mene, from Anglo-French mene, meiene, from Latin medianus — more at median
First Known Use: 14th century


noun \ˈmēn\

: a middle point between two things

Full Definition of MEAN

a (1) :  something intervening or intermediate (2) :  a middle point between extremes
b :  a value that lies within a range of values and is computed according to a prescribed law: as
(1) :  arithmetic mean (2) :  expected value
c :  either of the middle two terms of a proportion
plural but sing or plural in constr :  something useful or helpful to a desired end
plural :  resources available for disposal; especially :  material resources affording a secure life
by all means
:  most assuredly :  certainly
by means of
:  through the use of
by no means
:  in no way :  not at all

Examples of MEAN

  1. Take all these temperatures and calculate their mean.
  2. trying to find a golden mean between doing too little and doing too much

Origin of MEAN

(see 3mean)
First Known Use: 14th century

Related to MEAN


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