Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of Mean
Meaning of mean by Wiktionary Dictionary



    • enPR: mēn, IPA: /miːn/, SAMPA: /mi:n/
    • Rhymes: -iːn

    Etymology 1

    From Old English mænan ( “to mean, to allude to” ). Confer Dutch menen, German meinen. Cognate with mind and German Minne ( “love” ) .


    to mean ( third-person singular simple present means present participle meaning, simple past and past participle meant )

    1. To intend.
      1. ( transitive ) To intend, to plan ( to do ); to have as one's intention. [from 8th c.]
        I didn't mean to knock your tooth out .
        I mean to go to Baddeck this summer .
        I meant to take the car in for a smog check, but it slipped my mind .
      2. ( intransitive ) To have intentions of a given kind. [from 14th c.]
        Don't be angry; she meant well .
      3. ( transitive, usually in passive ) To intend ( something ) for a given purpose or fate; to predestine. [from 16th c.]
        Actually this desk was meant for the subeditor .
        Man was not meant to question such things .
    2. To convey meaning.
      1. ( transitive ) To convey ( a given sense ); to signify, or indicate ( an object or idea ). [from 8th c.]
        I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean .
        The sky is red this morning—does that mean we're in for a storm?
      2. ( transitive ) Of a word, symbol etc: to have reference to, to signify. [from 8th c.]
        What does this hieroglyph mean?
      3. ( transitive ) To have conviction in ( something said or expressed ); to be sincere in ( what one says ). [from 18th c.]
        Does she really mean what she said to him last night?
        Say what you mean and mean what you say .
      4. ( transitive ) To result in; to bring about. [from 19th c.]
        One faltering step means certain death .
      5. ( transitive ) To be important ( to ). [from 19th c.]
        My home life means a lot to me .


    mean ( plural: means )

    1. ( obsolete, in singular ) An intermediate step or intermediate steps .

    For examples of the usage of this term see the citations page .

    Etymology 2

    Middle English mene, imene "common" from Old English ġemǣne "common". Confer Dutch gemeen, German gemein, Gothic gamains. Cognate with Latin communis .


    mean ( comparative meaner, superlative meanest )

    1. Causing or intending to cause intentional harm; bearing ill will towards another; cruel; malicious .
      Watch out for her, she's mean. I said good morning to her, and she punched me in the nose .
    2. Miserly; stingy .
      He's so mean. I've never seen him spend so much as five pounds on presents for his children .
    3. Selfish; acting without consideration of others; unkind .
      It was mean to steal the girl's piggy bank, but he just had to get uptown and he had no cash of his own .
    4. Powerful; fierce; harsh; damaging .
      It must have been a mean typhoon that levelled this town .
    5. Accomplished with great skill; deft; hard to compete with .
      Your mother can roll a mean cigarette .
      He hits a mean backhand .
    6. Low in quality; inferior .
    Derived terms

    Etymology 3

    From Middle English meene, from Old French meien ( French moyen ), Late Latin medianus ( “that is in the middle, middle” ), from medius ( “middle” ). Cognate with mid .


    mean ( not comparable )

    1. Having the mean ( see noun below ) as its value .
    2. ( obsolete ) Middling in quality or excellence; moderately good, tolerable.
    Derived terms
    Related terms


    mean ( plural: means )

    1. ( statistics ) The average, the arithmetic mean .
    2. Loosely, an intermediate value or range of values; a mid-value; a vague average.
    3. ( mathematics ) Any function of multiple variables that satisfies certain properties and yields a number representative of its arguments; or, the number so yielded; a measure of central tendency.
    4. ( mathematics ) Either of the two numbers in the middle of a conventionally presented proportion, as 2 and 3 in 1:2=3:6.
    5. ( music, now historical ) The alto part in polyphonic music; an alto instrument.
      • 1624, John Smith, Generall Historie, in Kupperman 1988, p. 147:
        Of these [rattles] they have Base, Tenor, Countertenor, Meane, and Treble .
    Coordinate terms
    • ( statistics ): median, mode
    See also
    • ( statistics ): spread, range
    Derived terms


    frequency based on Project Gutenberg corpus">Most common English words: human « kept « business « #383: mean » manner » following » fell


    • Amen, amen, mane, MENA, NAmE, name, NEMA, NMEA

Explanation of mean by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. have in mind as a purpose

    2. I mean no harm
      I only meant to help you
    3. destine or designate for a certain purpose

    4. These flowers were meant for you
    5. intend to refer to

    6. Yes, I meant you when I complained about people who gossip!
    7. denote or connote

    8. `maison' means `house' in French
      An example sentence would show what this word means
    9. mean or intend to express or convey

    10. You never understand what I mean!
    11. have as a logical consequence

    12. The water shortage means that we have to stop taking long showers
    13. have a specified degree of importance

    14. My ex-husband means nothing to me
      Happiness means everything
    1. of no value or worth

    2. ( used of sums of money ) so small in amount as to deserve contempt

    3. ( used of persons or behavior ) characterized by or indicative of lack of generosity

    4. a mean person
    5. characterized by malice

    6. in a mean mood
    7. having or showing an ignoble lack of honor or morality

    8. taking a mean advantage
      chok'd with ambition of the meaner sort- Shakespeare
      something essentially vulgar and meanspirited in politics
    9. approximating the statistical norm or average or expected value

    10. the mean annual rainfall
    11. marked by poverty befitting a beggar

    12. a mean hut
    13. excellent

    14. famous for a mean backhand
    1. an average of n numbers computed by adding some function of the numbers and dividing by some function of n

    Definition of mean by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Mean ( mēn ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Meant ( mĕnt ); p. pr. & vb. n. Meaning.] [OE. menen, AS. mǣnan to recite, tell, intend, wish; akin to OS. mēnian to have in mind, mean, D. meenen, G. meinen, OHG. meinan, Icel. meina, Sw. mena, Dan. mene, and to E. mind. √104. See Mind, and cf. Moan.]
      1. To have in the mind, as a purpose, intention, etc.; to intend; to purpose; to design; as, “what do you mean to do?”

      What mean ye by this service ? Ex. xii. 26.

      Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good. Gen. 1. 20.

      I am not a Spaniard

      To say that it is yours and not to mean it. Longfellow.

      2. To signify; to indicate; to import; to denote.

      What mean these seven ewe lambs ? Gen. xxi. 29.

      Go ye, and learn what that meaneth. Matt. ix. 13.

    2. Mean, v. i. To have a purpose or intention. [Rare, except in the phrase to mean well, or ill.] Shak.

    3. Mean ( mēn ), a. [Compar. Meaner ( mēnẽr ); superl. Meanest.] [OE. mene, AS. mǣne wicked; akin to mān, a., wicked, n., wickedness, OS. mēn wickedness, OHG. mein, G. meineid perjury, Icel. mein harm, hurt, and perh. to AS. gemǣne common, general, D. gemeen, G. gemein, Goth. gamáins, and L. communis. The AS. gemǣne prob. influenced the meaning.]

      1. Destitute of distinction or eminence; common; low; vulgar; humble. “Of mean parentage.” Sir P. Sidney.

      The mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself. Is. ii. 9.

      2. Wanting dignity of mind; low-minded; base; destitute of honor; spiritless; as, “a mean motive”.

      Can you imagine I so mean could prove,

      To save my life by changing of my love ? Dryden.

      3. Of little value or account; worthy of little or no regard; contemptible; despicable.

      The Roman legions and great Caesar found

      Our fathers no mean foes. J. Philips.

      4. Of poor quality; as, “mean fare”.

      5. Penurious; stingy; close-fisted; illiberal; as, “mean hospitality”.

      ☞ Mean is sometimes used in the formation of compounds, the sense of which is obvious without explanation; as, meanborn, mean-looking, etc.

      Syn. -- Base; ignoble; abject; beggarly; wretched; degraded; degenerate; vulgar; vile; servile; menial; spiritless; groveling; slavish; dishonorable; disgraceful; shameful; despicable; contemptible; paltry; sordid. See Base.

    4. Mean, a. [OE. mene, OF. meiien, F. moyen, fr. L. medianus that is in the middle, fr. medius; akin to E. mid. See Mid.]
      1. Occupying a middle position; middle; being about midway between extremes.

      Being of middle age and a mean stature. Sir. P. Sidney.

      2. Intermediate in excellence of any kind.

      According to the fittest style of lofty, mean, or lowly. Milton.

      3. ( Math. ) Average; having an intermediate value between two extremes, or between the several successive values of a variable quantity during one cycle of variation; as, “mean distance; mean motion; mean solar day.”

      Mean distance ( of a planet from the sun ) ( Astron. ), the average of the distances throughout one revolution of the planet, equivalent to the semi-major axis of the orbit. -- Mean error ( Math. Phys. ), the average error of a number of observations found by taking the mean value of the positive and negative errors without regard to sign. -- Mean-square error, or Error of the mean square ( Math. Phys. ), the error the square of which is the mean of the squares of all the errors; -- called also, mean square deviation, mean error. -- Mean line. ( Crystallog. ) Same as Bisectrix. -- Mean noon, noon as determined by mean time. -- Mean proportional ( between two numbers ) ( Math. ), the square root of their product. -- Mean sun, a fictitious sun supposed to move uniformly in the equator so as to be on the meridian each day at mean noon. -- Mean time, time as measured by an equable motion, as of a perfect clock, or as reckoned on the supposition that all the days of the year are of a mean or uniform length, in
      contradistinction from apparent time, or that actually indicated by the sun, and from sidereal time, or that measured by the stars.

    5. Mean, n.
      1. That which is mean, or intermediate, between two extremes of place, time, or number; the middle point or place; middle rate or degree; mediocrity; medium; absence of extremes or excess; moderation; measure.

      But to speak in a mean, the virtue of prosperity is temperance; the virtue of adversity is fortitude. Bacon.

      There is a mean in all things. Dryden.

      The extremes we have mentioned, between which the wellinstracted Christian holds the mean, are correlatives. I. Taylor.

      2. ( Math. ) A quantity having an intermediate value between several others, from which it is derived, and of which it expresses the resultant value; usually, unless otherwise specified, it is the simple average, formed by adding the quantities together and dividing by their number, which is called an arithmetical mean. A geometrical mean is the nth root of the product of the n quantities being averaged.

      3. That through which, or by the help of which, an end is attained; something tending to an object desired; intermediate agency or measure; necessary condition or coagent; instrument.

      Their virtuous conversation was a mean to work the conversion of the heathen to Christ. Hooker.

      You may be able, by this mean, to review your own scientific acquirements. Coleridge.

      Philosophical doubt is not an end, but a mean. Sir W. Hamilton.

      ☞ In this sense the word is usually employed in the plural form means, and often with a singular attribute or predicate, as if a singular noun.

      By this means he had them more at vantage. Bacon.

      What other means is left unto us. Shak.

      4. pl. Hence: Resources; property, revenue, or the like, considered as the condition of easy livelihood, or an instrumentality at command for effecting any purpose; disposable force or substance.

      Your means are very slender, and your waste is great. Shak.

      5. ( Mus. ) A part, whether alto or tenor, intermediate between the soprano and base; a middle part. [Obs.]

      The mean is drowned with your unruly base. Shak.

      6. Meantime; meanwhile. [Obs.] Spenser.

      7. A mediator; a go-between. [Obs.] Piers Plowman.

      He wooeth her by means and by brokage. Chaucer.

      By all means, certainly; without fail; as, “go, by all means”. -- By any means, in any way; possibly; at all.

      If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead. Phil. iii. ll.

      -- By no means, or By no manner of means, not at all; certainly not; not in any degree.

      The wine on this side of the lake is by no means so good as that on the other. Addison.