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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.

available resources, especially money:
They lived beyond their means.
considerable financial resources; riches:
a man of means.

something that is midway between two extremes; something intermediate:
to seek a mean between cynicism and blind faith.

a quantity having a value intermediate between the values of other quantities; an average, especially the arithmetic mean.
either the second or third term in a proportion of four terms.

Statistics. expected value. See mathematical expectation (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,

(in emphasis) certainly:
Go, by all means.
at any cost; without fail.

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
no mean

of high quality: no mean performer
difficult: no mean feat

the middle point, state, or course between limits or extremes

the second and third terms of a proportion, as b and c in a/b = c/d
another name for average (sense 2) See also geometric mean

(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



mean business
mean to

, also see under


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  • By-and-by

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  • By-any-stretch

    Beyond ordinary limits, especially of the imagination. For example, She could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered a great actress. The phrase sometimes is put in the negative, by no stretch, as in By no stretch can that work be called an opera. [ Late 1700s ]

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