adjective, meaner, meanest.
offensive, selfish, or unaccommodating; nasty; malicious: a mean remark;
He gets mean when he doesn’t get his way.
small-minded or ignoble:
Synonyms: contemptible, despicable.
penurious, stingy, or miserly:
a person who is mean about money.
Synonyms: niggardly, close, tight, parsimonious, illiberal, ungenerous, selfish.
inferior in grade, quality, or character:
no mean reward.
low in status, rank, or dignity:
Synonyms: common, humble; undignified, plebeian.
of little importance or consequence:
mean little details.
Synonyms: inconsequential, insignificant, petty, paltry, little, poor, wretched.
unimposing or shabby:
a mean abode.
Synonyms: squalid, poor.
small, humiliated, or ashamed:
You should feel mean for being so stingy.
Informal. in poor physical condition.
troublesome or vicious; bad-tempered:
a mean old horse.
Slang. skillful or impressive:
He blows a mean trumpet.
Usually, means. (used with a singular or plural verb) an agency, instrument, or method used to attain an end:
The telephone is a means of communication. There are several means of solving the problem.
something that is midway between two extremes; something intermediate:
to seek a mean between cynicism and blind faith.
Statistics. expected value. See (def 2).
Logic. the middle term in a syllogism.
occupying a middle position or an intermediate place, as in kind, quality, degree, or time:
a mean speed; a mean course; the mean annual rainfall.
by all means,
by any means, in any way; at all:
We were not surprised at the news by any means.
by means of, with the help of; by the agency of; through:
We crossed the stream by means of a log.
by no means, in no way; not at all:
The prize is by no means certain.
verb (mainly transitive) means, meaning, meant
(may take a clause as object or an infinitive) to intend to convey or express
(may take a clause as object or an infinitive) intend: she didn’t mean to hurt it
(may take a clause as object) to say or do in all seriousness: the boss means what he says about strikes
(often passive) often foll by for. to destine or design (for a certain person or purpose): she was meant for greater things
(may take a clause as object) to denote or connote; signify; represent: examples help show exactly what a word means
(may take a clause as object) to produce; cause: the weather will mean long traffic delays
(may take a clause as object) to foretell; portend: those dark clouds mean rain
to have the importance of: money means nothing to him
(intransitive) to have the intention of behaving or acting (esp in the phrases mean well or mean ill)
mean business, to be in earnest
(mainly Brit) miserly, ungenerous, or petty
humble, obscure, or lowly: he rose from mean origins to high office
despicable, ignoble, or callous: a mean action
poor or shabby: mean clothing, a mean abode
(informal, mainly US & Canadian) bad-tempered; vicious
(informal) ashamed: he felt mean about not letting the children go to the zoo
(informal, mainly US) unwell; in low spirits
(slang) excellent; skilful: he plays a mean trombone
the middle point, state, or course between limits or extremes
(statistics) a statistic obtained by multiplying each possible value of a variable by its probability and then taking the sum or integral over the range of the variable
intermediate or medium in size, quantity, etc
occurring halfway between extremes or limits; average
“intend, have in mind,” Old English mænan “to mean, intend, signify; tell, say; complain, lament,” from West Germanic *mainijan (cf. Old Frisian mena “to signify,” Old Saxon menian “to intend, signify, make known,” Dutch menen, German meinen “think, suppose, be of the opinion”), from PIE *meino- “opinion, intent” (cf. Old Church Slavonic meniti “to think, have an opinion,” Old Irish mian “wish, desire,” Welsh mwyn “enjoyment”), perhaps from root *men- “think” (see mind (n.)). Conversational question you know what I mean? attested by 1834.
“calculate an arithemtical mean,” 1882, from mean (n.).
“low-quality,” c.1200, “shared by all,” from imene, from Old English gemæne “common, public, general, universal, shared by all,” from Proto-Germanic *ga-mainiz “possessed jointly” (cf. Old Frisian mene, Old Saxon gimeni, Middle Low German gemeine, Middle Dutch gemene, Dutch gemeen, German gemein, Gothic gamains “common”), from PIE *ko-moin-i- “held in common,” a compound adjective formed from collective prefix *ko- “together” (Proto-Germanic *ga-) + *moi-n-, suffixed form of PIE root *mei- “to change, exchange” (see mutable). Cf. second element in common (adj.), a word with a sense evolution parallel to that of this word.
Of things, “inferior, second-rate,” from late 14c. (a secondary sense in Old English was “false, wicked”). Notion of “so-so, mediocre” led to confusion with mean (n.). Meaning “inferior in rank or status” (of persons) emerged early 14c.; that of “ordinary” from late 14c.; that of “stingy, nasty” first recorded 1660s; weaker sense of “disobliging, pettily offensive” is from 1839, originally American English slang. Inverted sense of “remarkably good” (i.e. plays a mean saxophone) first recorded c.1900, perhaps from phrase no mean _______ “not inferior” (1590s, also, “not average,” reflecting further confusion with mean (n.)).
“occupying a middle or intermediate place,” mid-14c., from Anglo-French meines (plural), Old French meien, variant of moiien “mid-, medium, common, middle-class” (12c., Modern French moyen), from Late Latin medianus “of the middle,” from Latin medius “in the middle” (see medial (adj.)). Meaning “intermediate in time” is from mid-15c. Mathematical sense is from late 14c.
“that which is halfway between extremes,” early 14c., from Old French meien “middle, means, intermediary,” noun use of adjective from Latin medianus “of or that is in the middle” (see mean (adj.2)). Oldest sense is musical; mathematical sense is from c.1500. Some senes reflect confusion with mean (adj.1). This is the mean in by no means (late 15c.).
An average in statistics. (See under “Physical Sciences and Mathematics.”)
In statistics, an average of a group of numbers or data points. With a group of numbers, the mean is obtained by adding them and dividing by the number of numbers in the group. Thus the mean of five, seven, and twelve is eight (twenty-four divided by three). (Compare median and mode.)
Excellent; wonderful; classy, wicked: This girl has already proved she can play a mean game of tennis/ And Wheelright had a great, mean ear for dialect (1900+ Black)
lean and mean, shake a wicked calf
, also see under
[meen] /min/ adjective, meaner, meanest. 1. offensive, selfish, or unaccommodating; nasty; malicious: a mean remark; He gets mean when he doesn’t get his way. 2. small-minded or ignoble: mean motives. Synonyms: contemptible, despicable. 3. penurious, stingy, or miserly: a person who is mean about money. Synonyms: niggardly, close, tight, parsimonious, illiberal, ungenerous, selfish. 4. inferior […]
noun, Physics, Chemistry. (in a collection of moving particles) 1. the average distance that a particle travels between successive collisions with other particles. noun 1. the average distance travelled by a particle, atom, etc, between collisions The average distance that an object (usually an atom or molecule) can move before colliding with something.
- Mean gene
noun phrase An expert; maven: John, who’s a mean bean at squash and horseback riding (1980s+)
- Mean green
noun phrase Money: Mean green won out over neighborhood purity in the end (1970s+ Black)