: air (see air entry 1 sense 3c) or bearing especially as expressive of attitude or personality : demeanor
of aristocratic mien
of somber mien
the mien of a choirboy
: appearance, aspect
dresses of formal mien

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Like its synonyms bearing and demeanor, mien means the outward manifestation of personality or attitude. Bearing is the most general, but it often implies characteristic posture, as in "a woman of regal bearing." Demeanor suggests attitude expressed through outward behavior in the presence of others—for example, "the manager's professional demeanor." Mien is a somewhat literary term referring to both bearing and demeanor. "A mien of supreme self-satisfaction" is a typical use. Mien and demeanor are also linked through etymology. Mien arose through the shortening and alteration of the verb demean, which comes from the Anglo-French demener ("to conduct"), a combination of the de- prefix with mener ("to lead") that is also the root of demeanor. In this case, demean means "to conduct or behave (oneself) usually in a proper manner," not "to degrade." That other demean is a distinct word with a different etymology.

Choose the Right Synonym for mien

bearing, deportment, demeanor, mien, manner, carriage mean the outward manifestation of personality or attitude.

bearing is the most general of these words but now usually implies characteristic posture.

a woman of regal bearing

deportment suggests actions or behavior as formed by breeding or training.

your deportment was atrocious

demeanor suggests one's attitude toward others as expressed in outward behavior.

the haughty demeanor of the headwaiter

mien is a literary term referring both to bearing and demeanor.

a mien of supreme self-satisfaction

manner implies characteristic or customary way of moving and gesturing and addressing others.

the imperious manner of a man used to giving orders

carriage applies chiefly to habitual posture in standing or walking.

the kind of carriage learned at boarding school

Example Sentences

He has the mien of an ancient warrior. the friendly mien of the librarian suggested that she was willing to offer any needed help
Recent Examples on the Web Josh has depleted his trust fund; Tess, despite her lawyerly mien, struggles with self-loathing; Kate views herself as dumpy, an afterthought to her older, handsome brothers. Hamilton Cain, Washington Post, 7 Nov. 2022 His happy-go-lucky mien and winking confidence suggests a bittersweet naiveté. Robert Daniels, Time, 14 Oct. 2022 The Stealth Performance's mien is akin to that of a big old Bentley, something like a Mulsanne that could light the afterburners for an on-ramp but wanted to heel over onto the door handles when the off-ramp arrived. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 8 Sep. 2022 Balancing these two competing motivations—settling Gomez in reality, while elevating Mabel’s own mien—gave the designer an intriguing challenge. Lauren Puckett-pope, ELLE, 7 Dec. 2020 Every funnyman has his calling card, and Sam Richardson’s is a mien of indefatigable bafflement. The New Yorker, 29 May 2022 His Mickey is pleasantly mumbly, with a hangdog mien that’s often crosscut with a don’t-underestimate-me swagger. Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune, 16 May 2022 Their rabbi, Samuel Rosenblatt, had a scholarly mien and a formal manner. Jonathan M. Pitts, baltimoresun.com, 1 Mar. 2022 The worst-case scenario, according to a SAGA official named Berit (Ane Skumsvoll), who has the mien of a concerned high-school principal, is that Norway’s entire Western coast will be devastated. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 22 Feb. 2022 See More

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

Word History


by shortening & alteration from demean entry 2

First Known Use

circa 1522, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of mien was circa 1522


Dictionary Entries Near mien

Cite this Entry

“Mien.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mien. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



: look, appearance, or manner especially as showing mood or personality
a kindly mien

More from Merriam-Webster on mien

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