noun mean·ing \ ˈmē-niŋ \
Updated on: 28 Dec 2017

Definition of meaning

1 a : the thing one intends to convey especially by language : purport
  • Do not mistake my meaning.
b : the thing that is conveyed especially by language : import
  • Many words have more than one meaning.
2 : something meant or intended : aim
  • a mischievous meaning was apparent
3 : significant quality; especially : implication of a hidden or special significance
  • a glance full of meaning
4 a : the logical connotation of a word or phrase
b : the logical denotation or extension of a word or phrase

Examples of meaning in a Sentence

  1. What is the precise meaning of this word in English?

  2. an old word that has taken on a new meaning

  3. The word has both literal meanings and figurative meanings.

  4. a word with various shades of meaning

  5. Don't distort her meaning by taking her words out of context.

  6. I didn't understand the meaning of his remark.

  7. Literary critics disagree about the meanings of his poems.

  8. a poem with subtle shades of meaning

  9. What is the meaning of life?

  10. It's a story about the true meaning of Christmas.

Recent Examples of meaning from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'meaning.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of meaning

14th century




Definition of meaning

somewhat old-fashioned
: conveying or intended to convey meaning : significant, meaningful
  • a meaning smile
  • When any mention was made of baronets either married or unmarried, of former lovers, of broken vows, or of second engagements, Miss Altifiorla would look with a meaning glance at her hostess.
  • — Anthony Trollope
  • Ruby lifted her heavy-lidded eyes and sent him a meaning look.
  • —Edna Ferber


play \ˈmē-niŋ-lē\ adverb
    • She said: "I am not a very plucky girl." She looked up at me and added meaningly: "And you know it. And you know why."
    • —Joseph Conrad
    • "I have come about a private matter," he said, looking meaningly at Betty, who got up and began to move toward the door.
    • —P. G. Wodehouse

First Known Use of meaning


MEANING Defined for Kids


noun mean·ing \ ˈmē-niŋ \

Definition of meaning for Students

1 : the idea that is represented by a word, phrase, or statement
2 : the idea a person intends to express by something said or done
  • What is the meaning of this behavior?
3 : the reason or explanation for something
  • … Father Wolf taught him … the meaning of things in the jungle …
  • —Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
4 : the quality of communicating something or of being important
  • He gave me a look full of meaning.

Seen and Heard

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formed or used for a special purpose

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