mean·​ing | \ ˈmē-niŋ How to pronounce meaning (audio) \

Definition of meaning

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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
4a : the logical connotation of a word or phrase
b : the logical denotation or extension of a word or phrase



Definition of meaning (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from meaning


meaningly \ ˈmē-​niŋ-​lē How to pronounce meaningly (audio) \ 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

Synonyms & Antonyms for meaning

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

  • unexpressive
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Examples of meaning in a Sentence

Noun What is the precise meaning of this word in English? an old word that has taken on a new meaning The word has both literal meanings and figurative meanings. a word with various shades of meaning Don't distort her meaning by taking her words out of context. I didn't understand the meaning of his remark. Literary critics disagree about the meanings of his poems. a poem with subtle shades of meaning What is the meaning of life? It's a story about the true meaning of Christmas.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Motorcycle sales accordingly went up, as people tried to reconnect with the true meaning of speed. A-LIST, "The Quest to be Quick," 24 Dec. 2017 As the story unfolds, the past catches up to the present and Mr. Sorkin keeps trying to invest Molly’s story with meaning, mostly through a little family psychodrama and some deeply unpersuasive feminism, including by casting her as a victim of men. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, "Review: The Big and Minor Stakes of ‘Molly’s Game’," 24 Dec. 2017 Each of these ornaments holds a special meaning to me about that person. Debbie Arrington, sacbee, "If you’re a fan of Christmas, you’ll love this year’s theme by a distinctive decorator," 22 Dec. 2017 The Boston Celtics added new meaning to stealing a win on the road. For The Win, "Pacers give away game in crazy final sequence," 19 Dec. 2017 Yet, each of you can rejoice in the beauty and true meaning of the season. Columbia Flier, "The meaning of Christmas and season’s beauty [Letter]," 12 Dec. 2017 In general, the nature or meaning of the information being delivered does not matter all that much, as long as some attention is being paid. The Economist, "Less Euromaidan, more GamergateOnce considered a boon to democracy, social media have started to look like its nemesis," 4 Nov. 2017 Unraveling the meaning of the mummies therefore has the potential to reveal some of the deepest mysteries of a mysterious people. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "The Animal Mummy Business," 10 Nov. 2017 The teen's mother says understanding the meaning of just one word the boy said could have stopped this whole situation, reports CBS News' Jamie Yuccas. CBS News, "Family of autistic teen mistakenly tackled by police calls for better training," 21 Sep. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of meaning


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1726, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for meaning

Time Traveler

The first known use of meaning was in the 14th century

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Statistics for meaning

Cite this Entry

“Meaning.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for meaning


How to pronounce meaning (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of meaning

: the idea that is represented by a word, phrase, etc.
: the idea that a person wants to express by using words, signs, etc.
: the idea that is expressed in a work of writing, art, etc.


mean·​ing | \ ˈmē-niŋ How to pronounce meaning (audio) \

Kids Definition of meaning

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.

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Comments on meaning

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