: 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

Did you know?

Mien is a somewhat literary term that refers to a person’s appearance and behavior toward others—that is, their outward manner or demeanor. Mien and demeanor are also linked through etymology: mien arose in the early 1500s through the shortening and alteration of the rare verb demean, meaning "to conduct or behave (oneself) usually in a proper manner." The source of demean is a Middle English word meaning (among other things) "to behave in a certain way; to conduct oneself"; that word’s Anglo-French source, demener, could mean (also among other things) "to lead," "to strive," "to guide," and "to behave." Note that the "behave" demean related to demeanor and mien is not related to the more common demean that means "to debase"; that word has its roots in an Old English word meaning "common, shared."

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

Examples of mien in a Sentence

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 Audiences delighted in the personality of Judge Lance Ito and the beach bum mien of witness Kato Kaelin. Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times, 11 Apr. 2024 Inevitably, though, Perriello also lets a welling frustration peek through his diplomatic mien. Andreas Kluth, The Mercury News, 10 Apr. 2024 Juventus’s decision to appoint Fabio Capello — his mien, even then, that of a stern immortal hewn from basalt — appeared a safe bet, but many of the others were not. Rory Smith, New York Times, 15 Mar. 2024 Her character’s inscrutable mien keeps John and the audience a little off-balance, though Erskine reveals glimmers of emotional desolation in Jane’s steady gaze. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 1 Feb. 2024 Still, John Kerry in 2004 picked a fellow senator with a similar mien, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Susan Page, USA TODAY, 31 Jan. 2024 Playing a philosophy professor turned fake assassin, Powell changes his costume, accent, and mien with joyful abandon, pulling the audience along as the stakes and absurdities continue to mount. The New Yorker, 22 Sep. 2023 This resignation gave her a cooler and slower, almost forestalled, mien and this shift made Olof more attentive. Agnes Callard, Harper's Magazine, 7 Feb. 2022 Coachella was his first public performance in six years, which means, at this point, his entire mien is more defined by his absences and ambiguities than his presence. Chris Richards, Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mien.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on mien

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!